- vortex 1650s, "whirlpool, eddying mass," from L. vortex, variant of vertex "an eddy of water, wind, or flame; whirlpool; whirlwind," from stem of vertere "to turn" (see VERSUS (Cf. versus)). Plural form is vortices. Became prominent in 17c. theories of astrophysics (by Descartes, etc.). In ref. 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.
Etymology dictionary. 2014.