Maelstrom

(Norwegian, whirling stream). There are about fifty maelströms off the coast of Norway, but the one Englishmen delight to tremble at is at the foot of the Lofoten Islands, between the islands of Moskenes and Mosken, where the water is pushed and jostled a good deal, and when the wind and tide are contrary it is not safe for small boats to venture near.

It was anciently thought that the Maelström was a subterranean abyss, penetrating the globe, and communicating with the Gulf of Bothnia.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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