noun, plural hel·i·ces [hel-uh-seez] /ˈhɛl əˌsiz/, he·lix·es.
  1. a spiral.
  2. Geometry. the curve formed by a straight line drawn on a plane when that plane is wrapped around a cylindrical surface of any kind, especially a right circular cylinder, as the curve of a screw. Equation: x = a sinθ, y = a cosθ, z = b θ.
  3. Architecture.
    1. a spiral ornament.
    2. (in a Corinthian capital) either of two scrolls issuing from a cauliculus.Compare Corinthian(def 2).
  4. Anatomy. the curved fold forming most of the rim of the external ear.
  5. Biochemistry. alpha helix.

Origin of helix

1555–65; < Latin: a spiral, a kind of ivy < Greek hélix anything twisted; compare helíssein to turn, twist, roll


[kuh-rin-thee-uh n]
  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of Corinth.
  2. Architecture. noting or pertaining to one of the five classical orders invented in ancient Greece and similar in most respects to the Ionic but usually of slenderer proportions, and characterized by a deep capital with a round bell decorated with acanthus leaves and a square abacus with concave sides. The Corinthian capital has typically two distinct rows of acanthus leaves above which appear eight fluted sheaths, from each of which spring two scrolls (helices), of which one curls beneath a corner of the abacus as half of a volute and the other curls beneath the center of the abacus.Compare composite(def 3), Doric(def 3), Ionic(def 1), Tuscan(def 2).
  3. ornate, as literary style.
  4. luxurious or licentious.
  5. pertaining to or designating a style of vase painting developed in Corinth, in the 7th and early 6th centuries b.c., characterized chiefly by human, animal, and ornamental motifs, painted boldly in a black figure style on a terra-cotta ground, often arranged in tiers around the vase.
  1. a native or inhabitant of Corinth.
  2. a man about town, especially one who lives luxuriously or, sometimes, dissolutely.
  3. an amateur yachtsman.
  4. Manège. a horse-show class in which each contestant must be a member of a recognized hunt and wear regulation hunt livery.Compare appointment(def 7).

Origin of Corinthian

1350–1400; Middle English Corinthi(es) men of Corinth (< Latin Corinthiī < Greek Korínthioi; see Corinth) + -an
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for helices

Historical Examples of helices

British Dictionary definitions for helices


  1. a plural of helix


  1. of, characteristic of, or relating to Corinth
  2. of, denoting, or relating to one of the five classical orders of architecture: characterized by a bell-shaped capital having carved ornaments based on acanthus leavesSee also Ionic, Doric, composite (def. 4), Tuscan
  3. given to luxury; dissolute
  4. ornate and elaborate
  1. a native or inhabitant of Corinth
  2. an amateur sportsman
  3. rare a man about town, esp one who is dissolute


noun plural helices (ˈhɛlɪˌsiːz) or helixes
  1. a curve that lies on a cylinder or cone, at a constant angle to the line segments making up the surface; spiral
  2. a spiral shape or form
  3. the incurving fold that forms the margin of the external ear
  4. another name for volute (def. 2)
  5. any terrestrial gastropod mollusc of the genus Helix, which includes the garden snail (H. aspersa)

Word Origin for helix

C16: from Latin, from Greek: spiral; probably related to Greek helissein to twist
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

Word Origin and History for helices


1650s as an architectural order, from Corinth, the ancient Greek city-state. In classical times Corinth was notorious for its luxury and licentiousness among the Greek states (and for not scorning trade and profit); hence Corinthian, noun and adjective, in various slang or colloquial sense in English, especially "a swell, a man about town" (early to mid-19c. but especially in the 1820s).



"a spiral thing," 1560s, from Latin helix "spiral," from Greek helix (genitive helikos), related to eilein "to turn, twist, roll," from PIE *wel-ik-, from root *wel- "to turn, revolve" (see volvox).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

helices in Medicine


n. pl. he•lix•es
  1. A spiral form or structure.
  2. The folded rim of skin and cartilage around most of the outer ear.
  3. A three-dimensional curve that lies on a cylinder or cone, so that its angle to a plane perpendicular to the axis is constant.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

helices in Science


  1. A three-dimensional spiral curve. In mathematical terms, a helix can be described as a curve turning about an axis on the surface of a cylinder or cone while rising at a constant upward angle from a base.
  2. Something, such as a strand of DNA, having a spiral shape.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

helices in Culture



One of the three main styles of Greek architecture (the others are Doric and Ionic). The Corinthian column is slender and fluted; the capital incorporates sculpted leaves.



In geometry, a three-dimensional spiral shape, resembling a spring.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.