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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Vortex \Vor"tex\, n.; pl. E. Vortexes, L. Vortices. [L. vortex, vertex, -icis, fr. vortere, vertere, to turn. See Vertex.] [1913 Webster] 1. A mass of fluid, especially of a liquid, having a whirling or circular motion tending to form a cavity or vacuum in the center of the circle, and to draw in towards the center bodies subject to its action; the form assumed by a fluid in such motion; a whirlpool; an eddy. [1913 Webster] 2. (Cartesian System) A supposed collection of particles of very subtile matter, endowed with a rapid rotary motion around an axis which was also the axis of a sun or a planet. Descartes attempted to account for the formation of the universe, and the movements of the bodies composing it, by a theory of vortices. [1913 Webster] 3. (Zool.) Any one of numerous species of small Turbellaria belonging to Vortex and allied genera. See Illustration in Appendix. [1913 Webster] Vortex atom (Chem.), a hypothetical ring-shaped mass of elementary matter in continuous vortical motion. It was conveniently regarded in certain early mathematical models as the typical form and structure of the chemical atom, but is no longer considered a useful model, having been superseded by quantum mechanics. Vortex wheel, a kind of turbine. [1913 Webster +PJC]