One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1An object having a three-dimensional shape like that of a wire wound uniformly in a single layer around a cylinder or cone, as in a corkscrew or spiral staircase.
spiral, coil, curl, corkscrew, twist, twirl, loop, gyre, whorl, scroll, curlicue, convolutionView synonyms
- ‘They found that DNA consists of two connected twisted strands in the shape of a helix.’
- ‘It described his proposal for a different type of helical structure, which he called the helix.’
- ‘Seven of the predicted helices in our final structure are consistent with the model of MacDonald.’
- ‘Although Concrete art is typically austerely geometrical, it is not necessarily so; Bill's sculpture, for example, often uses graceful spiral or helix shapes.’
- ‘The crucial trick is that the helix is not even: it has a significantly larger diameter in the middle than at the ends.’
- ‘The building blocks are chosen so that the ribbon curls into a helix.’
- ‘The excess is carefully cut away to fabricate the helix shape.’
- ‘Both had almost the same number of helices, strands and turns.’
- ‘A television monitor showed what was inside: a glowing ball of gas surrounded by a metal helix.’
- ‘Terrified, he ran to a stairwell; its helix curved upward toward the floors above.’
- ‘He was looking at the picture of the helix.’
- ‘The fibers themselves are assumed to be straight helices.’
- 1.1Geometry A curve on a conical or cylindrical surface which would become a straight line if the surface were unrolled into a plane.
- ‘The conical helix of their upward spiral against the flat blue sky is completely hypnotic.’
- ‘A template in the shape of a narrow right-angle triangle is wrapped around the cylinder to be threaded, and the hypotenuse of the triangle forms the line of the helix.’
- 1.2Biochemistry An extended spiral chain of atoms in a protein, nucleic acid, or other polymeric molecule.
- ‘DNA molecules in nature are built from two complementary strands that bind to form the double helix.’
- ‘The gray bands indicate the helix regions of the protein.’
- ‘The double helix of DNA is held together by hydrogen bonds.’
- ‘It turns out that a helix, essentially, is a great way to bunch up a very long molecule, such as DNA, in a crowded place, such as a cell.’
- ‘Part of the gene was not arranged in the double helix structure, they noticed.’
- 1.3Architecture A spiral ornament.
- ‘Ross Lovegrove's stairway, with its helix profile, is part of a new tendency by designers to borrow forms from nature.’
The rim of the external ear.
- ‘The ear print on the safe had a circular mark at the top of the ear helix.’
- ‘Decrease oxygen saturation in blood in the helix of the ear by using an ear oximeter.’
Mid 16th century (in the architectural sense ‘spiral ornament’): via Latin from Greek.
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