Word of the Day

Tuesday, April 06, 2004


\vur-TIJ-uh-nuhs\ , adjective;
Affected with vertigo; giddy; dizzy.
Causing or tending to cause dizziness.
Turning round; whirling; revolving.
Inclined to change quickly or frequently; inconstant.
But up close the building is impossibly steep, vertiginous, hostile.
-- Neil Baldwln, Legends of the Plumed Serpent
He did us no good when, without permission, he entered Tibetan air space and flew up over central China, explaining that it was impossible to comply with the authorities' instructions to land because of the vertiginous mountain terrain.
-- Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones, Around the World in 20 Days
. . .the bouldery ruins of vertiginous cliffs pounded and lashed by the fury of wind and water.
-- Lena Lencek and Gideon Bosker, The Beach
Vertiginous derives from Latin vertigo, "a turning round, a whirling round; giddiness," from vertere, "to turn." Related words include reverse, "to turn back (re-) or around"; subvert, "to undermine" (from sub-, "under" + vertere -- at root "to turn from under, to overturn"); and versus, "against" (from versus, "turned towards," hence "facing, opposed," from the past participle of vertere).
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