earth·​quake | \ ˈərth-ˌkwāk \

Definition of earthquake

1 : a shaking or trembling of the earth that is volcanic or tectonic in origin

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Synonyms for earthquake


quake, shake, temblor, tremor

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Examples of earthquake in a Sentence

a building destroyed by earthquake the San Andreas Fault is notorious for its earthquakes

Recent Examples on the Web

Still standing after decades of Himalayan earthquakes, this important piece of history is as fragile as the shifting Caravaggio light. Sophy Roberts, Condé Nast Traveler, "On Your Next Trip to Nepal, Rent the House Sir Edmund Hillary Loved," 20 Dec. 2018 The eruptions came on the heels of earthquake activity at Yellowstone recorded by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Fox News, "Quakes and eruptions spark talks of Yellowstone supervolcano," 2 Oct. 2018 After the 1906 earthquake and fire, the quarry fell into disrepair and was abandoned. Thomas Graham,, "Walking these seven hills of San Francisco a peak experience," 28 June 2018 Satellite data and updates from Indonesian authorities indicate a 64-hectare (160-acre) chunk that slid into the sea with the force of a 3.4-magnitude earthquake. Jake Maxwell Watts, WSJ, "Indonesia’s Volatile Child of Krakatau Collapsed, but Now It’s More Explosive," 29 Dec. 2018 The hotel’s owners claim the building can withstand a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and has six pumping machines if the quarry ever floods. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Shanghai luxury hotel is built inside an abandoned quarry," 5 Dec. 2018 The Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, where the 2011 meltdown occurred in the wake of a 7.0-magnitude earthquake, is 75 miles east, separated by several mountain ridges that prevented dangerous radiation from reaching this area. Adam H. Graham, Condé Nast Traveler, "Slow Skiing in Japan's Deep North," 11 Oct. 2018 The destruction of Vacationland was triggered by a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that hit the summit of the Kilauea volcano. Natasha Bach, Fortune, "Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Wipes Out an Entire Neighborhood Called 'Vacationland'," 7 June 2018 The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center on Oahu reports that a 4.4 magnitude earthquake shook the Hilina region of Kilauea volcano, southwest of the estates. CBS News, "Hawaii officials go door to door to get holdouts to flee fast lava," 29 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'earthquake.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of earthquake

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

18 Jan 2019

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The first known use of earthquake was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for earthquake



English Language Learners Definition of earthquake

: a shaking of a part of the Earth's surface that often causes great damage


earth·​quake | \ ˈərth-ˌkwāk \

Kids Definition of earthquake

: a shaking or trembling of a portion of the earth

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Comments on earthquake

What made you want to look up earthquake? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to gather or build up little by little

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