Definition of maelstrom in US English:



  • 1A powerful whirlpool in the sea or a river.

    • ‘The Shade raised its arms and disappeared in a maelstrom of whirling water and howling wind.’
    • ‘Situated off the north coast of Jura, it is one of the half-dozen biggest maelstroms in the world.’
    • ‘He blithely sailed off into a maelstrom and delivered a steady performance as France's sailing stars faltered around him.’
    • ‘He tosses it beyond a breaking wave, and it bobs and sinks in the maelstrom of receding water colliding with the next surge of the tide.’
    • ‘Lydon as well was thrown backwards in the maelstrom.’
    • ‘Together they stood in the foretops and conned the ship in through the seething maelstrom of the equatorial current.’
    • ‘One lugworm and a thin strip of squid will not get very far in a seething maelstrom of a sea where the tide is screaming through and you have other anglers all around you.’
    • ‘He got stuck in a maelstrom and lost his paddles.’
    • ‘The run is a maelstrom of huge waves and sharp pour-overs that sound like the afterburners of an F - 16.’
    • ‘We made a hasty exit back up to the beach and, before long, the water was once again a maelstrom of ever-widening rips, eddies and whirlpools.’
    • ‘He didn't fight, didn't even scream as the icy water flooded in and he was sucked down into the maelstrom.’
    • ‘Ben plunged beneath the maelstrom and saved her.’
    • ‘Passing through it, we take a close look at the growth on the rocks and have a rest from the current that we know will soon turn this small channel into a maelstrom of undiveable water.’
    whirlpool, vortex, eddy, swirl
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    1. 1.1 A situation or state of confused movement or violent turmoil.
      ‘the train station was a maelstrom of crowds’
      • ‘Different colors of mana spun and swirled in a maelstrom of colorful fury.’
      • ‘The men are angry and young, caught up in a maelstrom of emotions as they struggle to right a wrong, face down the established order and make their voices heard.’
      • ‘Her announcement early on that she is moving out sets off a maelstrom of change.’
      • ‘In late January, he rejoiced amid the maelstrom which surrounds Super Bowl, inactive yet fully involved in the Bucs' charge to the sport's ultimate prize.’
      • ‘I would have preferred to remain awake, staring at the ceiling, sweating it out, but no: back into the maelstrom.’
      • ‘A maelstrom of questions churned his mind and he had no answers.’
      • ‘A maelstrom of emotions crossed the boy's face: embarrassment, anger, frustration.’
      • ‘The news sent many in the media into a maelstrom of unresolved questions.’
      • ‘To drag an old friend and a new one into a maelstrom of complications was nearly unforgivable.’
      • ‘At this point many firms dissolve, sometime in a slow slide to failure, sometimes more dramatically in a maelstrom of big emotions and bad decisions.’
      • ‘Now, astronomers have found further evidence that Centaurus A is a maelstrom of violence.’
      • ‘As an author of children's books, Haddon is particularly adept at writing about Jacob's reaction to the adult maelstrom that surrounds him.’
      • ‘Austere and absorbing, Escape is a convincing descent into a maelstrom of anguish and, ultimately, deadly despair.’
      • ‘His face was emotionless, but inside was a maelstrom of hurt, sadness, anger, and pain.’
      • ‘Well, it's nice to hear someone in the midst of the maelstrom confirm what we already know, that a cover-up is going on.’
      • ‘Pressure for something effective to be done has led to a maelstrom of conflicting reports that has spooked the international markets.’
      • ‘My home usually seemed more like a maelstrom of chaos and disorder.’
      • ‘It's just a maelstrom of shrieking children, crass commercialism, and ratcheting credit card debt.’
      • ‘Several Marines looked around at each other in confusion but no one let down their guard - this silence was even worse than a maelstrom of bullets.’
      • ‘Harden's Krasner is a maelstrom of emotions, lurching from admiration of her husband to fierce rage at his drunken womanising.’
      turbulence, tumult, turmoil, uproar, commotion, disorder, jumble, disarray, chaos, confusion, upheaval, seething mass, welter, pandemonium, bedlam, whirlwind, swirl
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Late 17th century: from early modern Dutch (denoting a mythical whirlpool in the Arctic Ocean, west of Norway), from maalen ‘grind, whirl’ + stroom ‘stream’.