Word of Week (WOW) – Helicoid

wow (1)

Word of the Week (WOW) is a weekly challenge created by Heena Rathore P. and is a fun way to learn new words every week. To participate, simply do a post with your word and leave the link as a comment on Heena’s WOW post for this week (above link).

This is my second time through the alphabet and I’m looking at the letter H this week. Last time round I did the word hirsute.

So here is my WOW for this week: 





hel•i•coid  [hɛlɪˌkɔɪd]


(Pronunciation of this word is different for the U.K. and U.S.)

U.K. : hee-li-koid

U.S. : hel-i-koid

Part of Speech


Related Forms:

Adjective: helicoidal

Adverb: helicoidally


  1. Adjective: coiled or curving like a spiral:
Grapevine Snail by Jurgen Schoner
Grapevine Snail by Jurgen Schoner: Wikimedia Commons

2. Noun: (geometry) a warped surface generated by a straight line moving so as to cut or touch a fixed helix.

Animation of Helicoid. Author: 09glasgow09 Wikimedia Commons
Animation of Helicoid. Author: 09glasgow09 Wikimedia Commons

Word Origin:

  • Late 17th century (1690-1700) from Greek helikoeidēs ‘of spiral form’, from helixhelik / helic + oid (where oid means resembling or like)


circular, circling, circumvoluted, spiral, corkscrew, curled, cochlear, helical, tendrillar, whorled, screw-shaped


straight, uncurling, unwinding

Use in a Sentence:

  1.   Bill wandered around his garden, his camera in his hand. The cucumber tendrils that curled in a delicate helicoid were simply too perfect to be ignored.
"Kurgiväät" by Robert Reisman (WooteleF) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kurgiv%C3%A4%C3%A4t.jpg#/media/File:Kurgiv%C3%A4%C3%A4t.jpg
Cucumber tendril. Photographer: Robert Reisman  Wikimedia Commons

2. The staicase in the old building had been designed like a never-ending helicoid:

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Image courtesy of Pixabay

3. For this I have written a short story. It mght be best for anyone who detests physical geography to just ignore it.  🙂

Meander in Ashes Hollow. Author S, Knights.https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Meander_in_Ashes_Hollow.jpg
Meander in Ashes Hollow. Author S. Knights: Wikimedia Commons

Mr. Anderson gestured to the meander along a section of the winding stream the Year 10 students had come to study as part of their geography field work.

‘Right then,’ he started, ‘who can tell me how the helicoidal flow of the river contributes to the development of a meander?’

Fifteen year old Matthew Johnson raised his hand. ‘Helicoidal flow means the way the water flows in spirals, a bit like a corkscrew, Sir.’

‘OK… good so far, Matthew.  Now we know what helicoidal flow means. So how can we apply that knowledge to explain how it helps the development of a meander?’

Mary Scrimshaw tentatively raised her hand. ‘It’s to do with the way the surface flow of the water hits the outer, steeper bank, over there,’ she said, pointing across the stream, ‘helping to further erode it. Then the water sort of does a somersault as it bounces off it…’ She hesitated as a few students giggled at the idea of the water doing a somersault.

‘Excellent, Mary,’ Mr Anderson said with an encouraging smile. ‘The somersault you describe is due to the helicoidal motion of the water. Anything more to add…?

Mary took a breath. ‘The water that hits the outer bank then flows along the river bed – eroding more material as it goes, making the middle of the meander quite deep.  Then, when this eroded … er … sediment reaches the opposite bank – the inside bank, that is, where the current is slower – the river dumps it. This makes a sort of little beach on that side.’

Mr. Anderson beamed. ‘Wonderful, Mary… Now, would someone else tell us what we call this area that Mary described as like a ‘little beach’.

‘It’s a slip-off slope’, Jamie Rogers, blurted, looking pleased with himself for knowing that.

‘Hand up, next time James,’ Mr Anderson reproved. ‘But you’re right, a slip-off slope it is.

‘Now, before you begin your sketches, I need to remind you that all this is due to the helicoidal flow and I’d like your completed cross-sections that accompany your sketch to clearly illustrate how that works…’


I must confess that I don’t find helicoid a particularly attractive word. I’d much prefer to use helical or spiral in my writing. Helicoid works very well in maths and geography, though. And, after all, my WOW posts are not just restricted to beautiful words – much as we all like them. Many words in our vocabulary are not lovely… but certainly just as important.

If you’d like to view more interesting words, visit Heena’s Page

Word Treasure