When two water currents meet, they sometimes form a swirling, circular whirlpool. There are some small but very strong whirlpools at the bottom of Niagara Falls.

The way water moves in a circle as it drains out of your bathtub is a smaller version of what a whirlpool looks like in a large body of water. Whirlpools can be dangerous for swimmers and small boats, although larger ships aren't at any real risk of being sucked into a whirlpool, even a particularly large and powerful one — which can also be called a maelstrom.

Definitions of whirlpool

n a powerful circular current of water (usually the result of conflicting tides)

maelstrom, vortex
(Greek mythology) a ship-devouring whirlpool lying on the other side of a narrow strait from Scylla
Type of:
current, stream
a steady flow of a fluid (usually from natural causes)

v flow in a circular current, of liquids

eddy, purl, swirl, whirl
Type of:
course, feed, flow, run
move along, of liquids

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