a large, powerful, or violent whirlpool.
a restless, disordered, or tumultuous state of affairs: the maelstrom of early morning traffic.
(initial capital letter) a famous hazardous whirlpool off the NW coast of Norway.

Origin of maelstrom

1550–60 for def 3; < early Dutch maelstroom, now spelling maalstroom, representing mal(en) to grind + stroom stream. See meal2, stream

Synonyms for maelstrom Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for maelstrom

Contemporary Examples of maelstrom

Historical Examples of maelstrom

British Dictionary definitions for maelstrom



a large powerful whirlpool
any turbulent confusion

Word Origin for maelstrom

C17: from obsolete Dutch maelstroom, from malen to grind, whirl round + stroom stream



a strong tidal current in a restricted channel in the Lofoten Islands off the NW coast of Norway
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 maelstrom

1680s (Hakluyt, 1560s, has Malestrand), name of a famous whirlpool off the northwest coast of Norway, from Danish malstrøm (1673), from older Dutch Maelstrom (modern maalstroom), literally "grinding-stream," from malen "to grind" (see meal) + stroom "stream" (see stream (n.)). The name was used by Dutch cartographers (e.g. Mercator, 1595). OED says perhaps originally from Færoic mal(u)streymur. Popularized as a synonym for "whirlpool" c.1841, the year of Poe's "A Descent into the Maelstrom."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper