Definition of vortex in US English:



  • A mass of whirling fluid or air, especially a whirlpool or whirlwind.

    ‘we were caught in a vortex of water’
    figurative ‘a swirling vortex of emotions’
    • ‘Even though the flow of vortices is almost transparent, it should be possible in time, to measure the flow power, the direction and plane that they take as they spin and propel away from the swimmer's body.’
    • ‘The resulting vector flow fields allow for the study of the distribution of velocity, vorticity and vortices.’
    • ‘The five to 12 separate finlets behind the anal and second dorsal fins may allow the tail to push against less turbulence by preventing vortices from forming in water flowing toward the tail.’
    • ‘They save energy by slaloming back and forth between the vortices, or whirlpools.’
    • ‘A descent through your rotor wash creates swirling vortices that spoil lift, so the more power you add, the worse it gets, and the faster you fall.’
    • ‘These grooves create microscopic vortices in the water next to the swimmer, thereby disturbing the flow of water along the body and reducing the surface friction drag.’
    • ‘As this material approaches the black hole, it swirls in a vortex, like water swirling down a drain.’
    • ‘The pressure of the water in these swirling vortices is lower than it is in the undisturbed fluid around the fish.’
    • ‘The counterclockwise winds around the vortex often push Arctic air south over the USA.’
    • ‘These vortices however, are unstable masses of air that can cause lots of problems to fly in.’
    • ‘The denser sand on top sinks while light sand on the bottom rises, creating swirling vortices akin to the convection rolls that are common in gases heated from below.’
    • ‘Dust devils are swirling vortexes that can tower several miles high and a quarter-mile (about a half a kilometer) wide at the base.’
    • ‘The magnetic fields of these vortices cause them to repel one another just as like-oriented magnets do.’
    • ‘He studied the dynamics of viscous fluids and the theory of vortices with applications to aeronautics in mind.’
    • ‘Inside clouds tiny vortices created by the wind spin water-sodden dust particles into clusters, where they meld to form raindrops, say the authors.’
    • ‘Currents passing around the tops of seamounts also create eddies and other vortices that can catch, hold and concentrate small plants and animals-phytoplankton and zooplankton-in suspension near summits.’
    • ‘Unlike wind tunnel test for airliners, there is no way to confirm exactly if or how vortices and shock waves form off of wing tips or other geometries.’
    whirlwind, whirlpool, gyre, maelstrom, eddy, swirl, swirling, countercurrent, counterflow
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Mid 17th century: from Latin vortex, vortic-, literally ‘eddy’, variant of vertex.