The Word-Hoard: Vertiginous



1 a : Characterized by or suffering from vertigo or dizziness
b : Inclined to frequent and often pointless change ; inconstant

2 : Causing or tending to cause dizziness 

3 : Marked by turning ; rotary 


When you’re poised atop a celestial skybridge or climbing the treacherous Cliffs of No Return, “vertiginous” may be the word you’re seeking to describe the dizzying height. Throw in a whirlpool waiting to claim the bones of the not-so-sure-footed for double effect.

It occurs to me that SFF settings are particularly ripe for this word choice, given how often heroes find themselves braving perilous precipices and bubbling volcanoes.



I hated it so much that I fought to get free of the black river that was carrying me. There was a vertiginous whirling of light and sound and stubborn shadow and then things steadied down and I was ashamed of myself for having passed out.

-Leigh Brackett, “The Last Days of Shandakor” (1952)


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