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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 ?
Spiral Experiences, LLC is a creative strategy, design, and dream-making studio in Fort Collins, Colo.
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.
Through Viral Spiral we hope to bring content that is immediate, relevant and most importantly, hilarious to our audience; adding something unexpected to the Nick schedule," said Tim Patterson, VP, Director of Programming, Nickelodeon UK.
There are three basic forms of a spiral arm: the Archimedean spiral, the logarithmic spiral and the hyperbolic spiral.
Tell students Smithson very carefully chose the sites in which he built his sculptures, such as the location of Spiral Jetty in the Great Salt Lake in Utah.
Our new Magnetic Spiral Cylinder will give our customers the best holding power in the industry.
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.
Mary Lacey, NSPS program executive officer, recently met with senior leaders from the Spiral 1.
The abbey's most famous feature is the spiral staircase connecting its library to its chapel.
As history proves, spiral patterns can empower the energy-creating ability, of symbols in our lives.
BIG Brother star Spiral was mobbed with offers of SEX on his whirlwind trip home - but the only thing the rapper took out of his trousers all night was a PEN to sign autographs.
Classic examples can be seen in castle staircases and spiral mazes.