Definition of maelstrom in US English:



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

    • ‘He got stuck in a maelstrom and lost his paddles.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Together they stood in the foretops and conned the ship in through the seething maelstrom of the equatorial current.’
    • ‘Situated off the north coast of Jura, it is one of the half-dozen biggest maelstroms in the world.’
    • ‘He didn't fight, didn't even scream as the icy water flooded in and he was sucked down into the maelstrom.’
    • ‘Lydon as well was thrown backwards in the maelstrom.’
    • ‘The Shade raised its arms and disappeared in a maelstrom of whirling water and howling wind.’
    • ‘He blithely sailed off into a maelstrom and delivered a steady performance as France's sailing stars faltered around him.’
    • ‘Ben plunged beneath the maelstrom and saved her.’
    • ‘The run is a maelstrom of huge waves and sharp pour-overs that sound like the afterburners of an F - 16.’
    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’
      • ‘I would have preferred to remain awake, staring at the ceiling, sweating it out, but no: back into the maelstrom.’
      • ‘To drag an old friend and a new one into a maelstrom of complications was nearly unforgivable.’
      • ‘Now, astronomers have found further evidence that Centaurus A is a maelstrom of violence.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Harden's Krasner is a maelstrom of emotions, lurching from admiration of her husband to fierce rage at his drunken womanising.’
      • ‘A maelstrom of emotions crossed the boy's face: embarrassment, anger, frustration.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Austere and absorbing, Escape is a convincing descent into a maelstrom of anguish and, ultimately, deadly despair.’
      • ‘Different colors of mana spun and swirled in a maelstrom of colorful fury.’
      • ‘My home usually seemed more like a maelstrom of chaos and disorder.’
      • ‘The news sent many in the media into a maelstrom of unresolved questions.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As an author of children's books, Haddon is particularly adept at writing about Jacob's reaction to the adult maelstrom that surrounds him.’
      • ‘Her announcement early on that she is moving out sets off a maelstrom of change.’
      • ‘His face was emotionless, but inside was a maelstrom of hurt, sadness, anger, and pain.’
      • ‘It's just a maelstrom of shrieking children, crass commercialism, and ratcheting credit card debt.’
      • ‘A maelstrom of questions churned his mind and he had no answers.’
      • ‘Pressure for something effective to be done has led to a maelstrom of conflicting reports that has spooked the international markets.’
      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’.