Sailor Speak of the Week – Eddy



  • A circular or reversed flow from the normal current.


12th century. From Icelandic and possibly Anglo-Saxon ed, meaning backwards. In Middle English is ydy.


These can range in size from tiny whirlpools to large ocean currents. You’ve probably seen these if you’ve ever looked at the water as you paddle an oar through it. (I spent a lot of summers during my childhood on the rivers and lakes of Oregon).

In the oceans, eddies can be quite large. They actually help to circulate water and nutrients up from colder depths in the ocean. The oceanographic company Horizon Marine actually assigns names to large eddies (similar to how hurricanes/typhoons/cyclones are assigned names).


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (2018, June 25). What is an eddy? Retreived from

Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic, CT: Mystic Seaport Museum.

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