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death spiral

1. In aviation, a dangerous downward cork-screw maneuver of a disabled or uncontrollable aircraft that often leads to a crash. Also called a "spiral dive." The pilot, unaware of the plane's slight roll in the cloud bank, only realized he was in a death spiral when it was too late to overcome the dive.
2. In pairs figure skating, a maneuver in which the male partner, in a pivot position, spins the female partner with one hand in a wide circle with her body nearly parallel to the ground. The two pulled off an amazing death spiral—her head looked as though it were about to touch the ice at one point!
3. In insurance (especially health insurance), a plan in which costs rapidly increase over time due to policyholders with a lower risk opting out of the policy, forcing those dependent on it to pay higher premiums, thus prompting more low-risk policy holders to opt out and further drive up costs, and so on. I purchased my health insurance plan as a means to afford my medicine, but it turned into a death spiral when employers started offering cheaper, barebones plans that the majority of people were quick to switch to.
4. In finance, a loan given by investors to a company in exchange for convertible bonds, which can then be converted to common stock at prices lower than the market value, causing overall share prices to fall and more bondholders to trade their stock for equity, ultimately leading to a collapse of the company's stock worth altogether. To keep his company afloat, Tom was forced to take a loan that ultimately proved a death spiral, leading him to close the business anyway.
5. Any situation in which a series of events or actions, especially as a consequence of one another, ultimately lead to a point of ruin, failure, or destruction. With the recent allegations of drug abuse, corruption charges, and controversial remarks about minorities, the long-time senator now seems locked into an irreversible death spiral.
See also: death, spiral

spiral down

to descend in a spiral path. The ancient trail spiraled down the mountain peak. A path spiraled down and at the bottom was a small refreshment stand.
See also: down, spiral

spiral up

to ascend in a spiral path. The smoke spiraled up to the sky. The trail spiraled up the slope to the top.
See also: spiral, up
References in periodicals archive ?
Smith said one of the biggest challenges of the two-month project was retrofitting the new spirals into the existing structure.
Form a point by changing direction sharply in the center of the circle, then stitch back through the middle of the open space to complete the first open spiral shape.
Infusion Spirals from the Barrel Mill come in a "distinctive" American Oak Char #3 toast level and can be purchased in packs of 6, 12 and 24.
The Archimedean spiral looks like a coiled rope or the grooves on a vinyl record.
As a result, the lower rungs of the spiral could be saturated in powder after operating only a few hours.
Starfrost Sales Director, Robert Long said: "Our in-line Helix Spiral Chiller has streamlined soup production by linking the filling line to the packing area.
These findings are particularly interesting as they show that spiral ganglion stem cells can be propagated in vitro," BioResearch Open Access Editor Jane Taylor, PhD, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, said.
Four-arm spiral antenna can be viewed as composed of two spiral arms, these two spiral arms need to be fed from 90 deg of phase.
The herb spiral accommodates these needs, as it is designed to have different soil conditions at different parts of the spiral.
Three new DVDs introduce the concept of martial arts, healing and fitness combined, offering instructional keys to using the Spiral Fitness concept and the Sphere Knot Energy Stick or spiral wand.
STAPLERS JO is in danger of loosing the brood sires' championship, but whether to Spiral Nikita or Top Honcho is a moot point at present.
From high-end cafes to hip home-furnishings stores, the use of spiral duct creates a contemporary look in any space, which raises a question: Is the move to spiral duct simply a trend or is it supported by practical considerations such as higher energy savings and better indoor environmental quality?
ONE of the UK's leading manufacturers of frozen vegetable products has invested in another spiral freezer from equipment specialist Starfrost.
The abbey's most famous feature is the spiral staircase connecting its library to its chapel.