Vertigo vs vertiginous

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Vertigo and vertiginous are two words that are sometimes confused. We will look at the meanings of the words vertigo and vertiginous, the relationship between the two, where these words come from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Vertigo is a condition in which the subject feels dizzy or feels as if he is spinning or moving when in fact he is standing still. Vertigo usually causes a loss of balance, and perhaps sweating and nausea. It is a medical condition that may be caused by such disparate situations as an inner ear imbalance, a brain tumor or carbon monoxide poisoning. The word vertigo is taken directly from the Latin word vertigo, which means a whirling movement.

Vertiginous is an adjective which may mean relating to the condition of vertigo. However, most often the word vertiginous means extremely high or extremely steep. The word vertiginous comes from the same Latin root, as in the Latin word vertiginosus which means being dizzy. It is assumed this refers to the fact that a great height may make one feel dizzy.


Dr Foster of the University of Colorado, Denver, has become recognised worldwide for her vertigo treatment – the Half Somersault Manoeuvre. (The Daily Express)

For some people, dizziness or vertigo is a feeling of unsteadiness, with the experience that the whole room is spinning around them. (The Times of Oman)

Mostly, in this cliff-clinging town, I tumble down steps and huff-puff back up again on foot, alternatively enclosed in canyon-like streets or propelled onto pocket-sized terraces with views over vertiginous rooftops to shockingly blue-green water. (The Wauchope Gazette)

Coco defied gravity in vertiginous scarlet heels as she stepped out in the sunshine with Chanel on her hip. (The Daily Mail)