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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 ?
Thank you very much for your summary about "The Theory of Spirally and Endlessly Development of Mutual-Transition of Positive Law and Normative Order.
In all genera studied (Table 1), the spikelet consists of an indeterminate rachilla, and spirally to distichously arranged glumes, each subtending (or not) a bisexual (or unisexual) flower (Figs.
piping in red, hot pink, purple and spirally wrapped mixture of purple
purchased metal tubing into special purpose spirally fluted (twisted), grooved
Patented spirally grooved water jacket in grinding chamber for high cooling efficiency.
MITRID--of the Mitridae family of spirally sculptured seashells.
Atrial opening small or moderate size; sperm 16 duct spirally coiled, colony not white and easily torn Atrial opening large, exposing most of branchial Lissoclinum walls; sperm duct not spirally coiled, colony fragile white, tunic very fragile and easily torn 16.
Evergreen trees, monoecious; leaves spirally arranged, sessile, lanceolate or linearlanceolate, serrulate, 3-7 cm long; pollen cones narrowly oblong in 1-5 terminal fascicles, each with 8-20 cones; ovulate cones globose, ovoid, or cylindric-ovoid, 3-5 cm long and wide, scales sessile, imbricate, leathery; seeds flat, with 2 narrow, lateral wings.
The Zimmer PowerStop has a spirally grooved piston for the passage of the damping oil from the lower reservoir to an exhaust channel.
The effect is created by spirally curved, inward-pointing needles that twist covetously around the plant's flexible stems--cascading locks on a seemingly restless tree.
The building, it should be noted, is built of steel rein forced concrete and masonry throughout, supported by narrowly spaced, spirally reinforced concrete columns varying in thickness from 14 to 21 inches, with the larger columns, naturally, to be found in the first story.
Based on this, the PM would select a developer who had a demonstrated track record of working with laboratories to spirally develop a system along such potential technology paths.
MARK Hill, hairdresser of the year, tells us: "Sarah's naturally curly hair has been teased into beautiful ringlets by taking sections of her hair and wrapping them spirally round the barrel of large tongs to produce this soft effect.
With the wrapping station, all rolls are wrapped spirally with a 500-mm-wide wrapping paper sheet.