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.
- vertex, vortex
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use vortex in a sentence
The most prominent breakthrough involves proving a fundamental new law governing the tornado-like tubes of currents known as vortices.
Doing so would be crucial to settling long-standing questions about a fundamental property of vortices called helicity.
Yet such a conservation law would be immensely useful to meteorologists and others who deal with vortices — that same wide spectrum of researchers who deal with turbulence.
Making a tornado-like vortex in water is easy — anyone can do it with a soda bottle.
It’s like building the plane as you’re trying to fly it in gale-force winds of a pandemic vortex.Will a Covid-19 Vaccine Change the Future of Medical Research? (Ep. 430) | Stephen J. Dubner | August 27, 2020 | Freakonomics
Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon labels the show a “crass stunt” on a “bottom-feeding vortex of sadness network.”Your Husband Is Definitely Gay: TLC’s Painful Portrait of Mormonism | Samantha Allen | January 1, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
Yet not everyone is caught up this vortex of paralysis and resentment.
She would leave every day of shooting during the polar vortex just grinning from ear-to-ear.Lori Petty on ‘Orange Is the New Black,’ the Halcyon ‘90s, and Discovering Jennifer Lawrence | Marlow Stern | June 8, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
No, that would be Baia, a popular Roman resort once described by Seneca the Younger as a “vortex of luxury” (sign me up).
Undeterred by the crippling polar vortex that's left heaps of snow lying unceremoniously at every turn.
With a gasp she felt herself falling straight down through a swirling vortex of sensation, to the very sand-bed of the stream.The Dragon Painter | Mary McNeil Fenollosa
He had now come to the verge of the whirlpool of destruction, and, in a frenzied moment, he threw himself into the awful vortex!Charles Duran | The Author of The Waldos
"She dies in a flurry," said Tom, casting his eyes at the little vortex into which the boat was then entering.The Pilot | J. Fenimore Cooper
It was a narrow, sharp rock, that jutted out about two feet from the bank, quite close to the vortex of the whirlpool.Martin Rattler | R.M. Ballantyne
Up from the horizon they would mount, forming a vortex overhead, soundless within the silence of the ether.The Home of the Blizzard | Douglas Mawson
British Dictionary definitions for vortex
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
- vortical, adjective
- vortically, adverb
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
Scientific definitions for vortex
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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.