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[vawr-tuh-seez] /ˈvɔr təˌsiz/
a plural of vortex.


[vawr-teks] /ˈvɔr tɛks/
noun, plural vortexes, vortices
[vawr-tuh-seez] /ˈvɔr təˌsiz/ (Show IPA)
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.
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.
Origin of vortex
1645-55; < Latin, variant of vertex vertex
Can be confused
vertex, vortex. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for vortices
  • Water vortices are little water whirls that spin around.
  • Also, photos and videos have revealed small horizontal vortices that wrap around the tops of some violent tornadoes.
  • The magazine emerged, yellow covered, the maiden number edited by the four of them in vortices of energy.
  • As air hits a bird in flight, it flows down the wings and creates vortices, which impose drag on a lone flyer.
  • When fish swim, they leave little swirling vortices in their wake.
  • By swimming together in a school, they can transfer energy to one another through these vortices.
  • They determined that vortices that form within the cloud act as centrifuges, which spin heavier droplets outwards.
  • These repeating patterns of vortices in an air stream around a body are relatively common.
  • The vortices in the pinning sites repel one another and move to the edges of the pinning site.
  • Wing-tip vortices are formed when high-pressure air spills up over the wing tips into the low-pressure space above the wing.
British Dictionary definitions for vortices


noun (pl) -texes, -tices (-tɪˌsiːz)
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
Derived Forms
vortical, adjective
vortically, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Latin: a whirlpool; variant of vertex
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
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Word Origin and History for vortices



1650s, "whirlpool, eddying mass," from Latin vortex, variant of vertex "an eddy of water, wind, or flame; whirlpool; whirlwind," from stem of vertere "to turn" (see versus). Plural form is vortices. Became prominent in 17c. theories of astrophysics (by Descartes, etc.). In reference to human affairs, it is attested from 1761. Vorticism as a movement in British arts and literature is attested from 1914, coined by Ezra Pound.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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vortices in Medicine

vortex vor·tex (vôr'těks')
n. pl. vor·tex·es or vor·ti·ces (-tĭ-sēz')
A spiral motion of fluid within a limited area, especially a whirling mass of water or air that sucks everything near it toward its center.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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vortices in Science
Plural vortexes or vortices (vôr'tĭ-sēz')
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 © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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