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[vawr-tuh-seez] /ˈvɔr təˌsiz/
a plural of vortex.


[vawr-teks] /ˈvɔr tɛks/
noun, plural vortexes, vortices
[vawr-tuh-seez] /ˈvɔr təˌsiz/ (Show IPA)
a whirling mass of water, especially one in which a force of suction operates, as a whirlpool.
a whirling mass of air, especially one in the form of a visible column or spiral, as a tornado.
See also polar vortex.
a whirling mass of fire, flame, etc.
a state of affairs likened to a whirlpool for violent activity, irresistible force, etc.
something regarded as drawing into its powerful current everything that surrounds it:
the vortex of war.
(in Cartesian philosophy) a rapid rotatory movement of cosmic matter about a center, regarded as accounting for the origin or phenomena of bodies or systems of bodies in space.
Origin of vortex
1645-55; < Latin, variant of vertex vertex
Can be confused
vertex, vortex. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for vortices
Historical Examples
  • Indefinitely, until, uniting with the other vortices of the planet, it had converted the entire mass of the world into energy.

    The Vortex Blaster Edward Elmer Smith
  • "Phlogiston" and "vortices" had their day and are forgotten.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • Tornadoes and mighty cyclones and vortices torned and cycled vorted.

    The Book of Gud Dan Spain
  • vortices may be called an occult quality, because their existence was never proved.

  • We may suppose that the motion of these parts takes the form of revolving circular currents or vortices.

    Aether and Gravitation William George Hooper
  • Fifty-eight of those atrocious Dilipic vortices had been driven to ground.

    The Galaxy Primes Edward Elmer Smith
  • At Paris the universe is seen composed of vortices of subtile matter; but nothing like it is seen in London.

  • That there are also vortices along the frontal line of roots, or near this line.

    Pedagogical Anthropology Maria Montessori
  • Ever since man learned how to liberate intra-atomic energy, the vortices of disintegration had been breaking out of control.

    The Vortex Blaster Edward Elmer Smith
  • After all it's only another example of Kelvin's theory of vortices.

    A Honeymoon in Space George Griffith
British Dictionary definitions for vortices


noun (pl) -texes, -tices (-tɪˌsiːz)
a whirling mass or rotary motion in a liquid, gas, flame, etc, such as the spiralling movement of water around a whirlpool
any activity, situation, or way of life regarded as irresistibly engulfing
Derived Forms
vortical, adjective
vortically, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Latin: a whirlpool; variant of vertex
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for vortices



1650s, "whirlpool, eddying mass," from Latin vortex, variant of vertex "an eddy of water, wind, or flame; whirlpool; whirlwind," from stem of vertere "to turn" (see versus). Plural form is vortices. Became prominent in 17c. theories of astrophysics (by Descartes, etc.). In reference to human affairs, it is attested from 1761. Vorticism as a movement in British arts and literature is attested from 1914, coined by Ezra Pound.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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vortices in Medicine

vortex vor·tex (vôr'těks')
n. pl. vor·tex·es or vor·ti·ces (-tĭ-sēz')
A spiral motion of fluid within a limited area, especially a whirling mass of water or air that sucks everything near it toward its center.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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vortices in Science
Plural vortexes or vortices (vôr'tĭ-sēz')
A circular, spiral, or helical motion in a fluid (such as a gas) or the fluid in such a motion. A vortex often forms around areas of low pressure and attracts the fluid (and the objects moving within it) toward its center. Tornados are examples of vortexes; vortexes that form around flying objects are a source of turbulence and drag. See also eddy.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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