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maelstrom (n.)

1680s (Hakluyt, 1560s, has Malestrand), name of a famous tidal whirlpool off the northwest coast of Norway, supposed to suck in and destroy everything that approached it at all times (in fact it is not dangerous except under certain conditions), from Danish malstrøm (1673), from older Dutch Maelstrom (modern maalstroom), literally "grinding-stream," from malen "to grind" (from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind") + stroom "stream" (from PIE root *sreu- "to flow").

The name was used by Dutch cartographers (for example Mercator, 1595). OED says it is perhaps originally from Færoic mal(u)streymur. Popularized as a synonym for "whirlpool" from c. 1841, the year of Poe's "A Descent into the Maelstrom."

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*sreu- 

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to flow."

It forms all or part of: amenorrhea; catarrh; diarrhea; gonorrhea; hemorrhoids; maelstrom; rheo-; rheology; rheostat; rheum; rheumatic; rheumatism; rheumatoid; rhinorrhea; rhythm; seborrhea; stream.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit sravati "flows," srotah "stream;" Avestan thraotah- "stream, river," Old Persian rauta "river;" Greek rhein "to flow," rheos "a flowing, stream," rhythmos "rhythm," rhytos "fluid, liquid;" Old Irish sruaim, Irish sruth "stream, river;" Welsh ffrwd "stream;" Old Norse straumr, Old English stream; Lettish strauma "stream, river;" Lithuanian sravėti "to trickle, ooze;" Old Church Slavonic struja "river," o-strovu "island," literally "that which is surrounded by a river;" Polish strumień "brook."

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*mele- 

*melə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to crush, grind," with derivatives referring to ground or crumbling substances and crushing or grinding instruments.

It forms all or part of: amyl; amyloid; blintz; emmer; emolument; immolate; maelstrom; mall; malleable; malleolus; mallet; malleus; maul; meal (n.2) "edible ground grain;" mill (n.1) "building fitted to grind grain;" millet; mola; molar (n.); mold (n.3) "loose earth;" molder; ormolu; pall-mall.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Hittite mallanzi "they grind;" Armenian malem "I crush, bruise;" Greek mylos "millstone," myle "mill;" Latin molere "to grind," mola "millstone, mill," milium "millet;" Old English melu "meal, flour;" Albanian miel "meal, flour;" Old Church Slavonic meljo, Lithuanian malu, malti "to grind;" Old Church Slavonic mlatu, Russian molotu "hammer."

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