Definitions

Maelstrom

Maelstrom

[meyl-struhm]
Maelstrom, whirlpool, Norway: see Moskenstraumen.

A maelstrom (or malström/malstrøm in the Scandinavian languages) is a very powerful whirlpool; a large, swirling body of water. A free vortex, it has considerable downdraft. The Nordic word was introduced into English by Edgar Allan Poe in his story "A Descent into the Maelstrom" (1841). In turn, the Nordic word may have been borrowed from Dutch maelstrom (modern spelling maalstroom). The original Maelstrom (described by Poe and others) is the Moskstraumen, a powerful tidal current in the Lofoten Islands off the Norwegian coast.

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