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

In March 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake shook Japan’s north east, triggering a massive tsunami that overwhelmed the Fukushima Daiichi plant and sparked its meltdown. Lucia I. Suarez Sang, Fox News, "Japan acknowledges first Fukushima radiation related death, seven years after disaster," 6 Sep. 2018 There are enough seismometers around these days to detect and locate nearly all earthquakes on land, except the most minuscule ones. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Seafloor fiber optic cables can work like seismometers," 15 June 2018 Meanwhile, on Hawaii's Big Island, a magnitude-5.5 earthquake shook the summit of the Kilauea volcano, sending an ash plume 8,000 feet in the air. Doug Criss, CNN, "5 things for June 4: Tariffs, volcanoes, breast cancer study," 4 June 2018 Kilauea’s spectacular explosions won’t set off earthquakes on America’s West Coast. Emily Atkin, The New Republic, "What Is Kilauea’s Impact on the Climate?," 26 May 2018 Then as Kilauea's magma shifted underground, a magnitude-6.9 earthquake rocked the Big Island. Audrey Mcavoy And Jae C. Hong,, "Hawaii officials plead for visitors to keep travel plans," 11 May 2018 Earlier volcanic activity Monday caused a series of earthquakes on Hawaii’s Big Island before Kilauea’s eruption Thursday. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "Strongest Earthquake in 43 Years Rocks Kilauea: The Latest on the Hawaii Volcano Eruption," 4 May 2018 Of all the destructive forces facing homeowners today—and that includes tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes—none is as menacing and damaging as the tiny termite. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How to Get Rid of Termites," 8 Jan. 2019 Likewise, geologic activity in the Earth’s core, earthquakes, ocean currents, and seasonal wind changes can also speed up or slow down the planet’s rotation. Brian Resnick, Vox, "The winter solstice is Friday: 8 things to know about the shortest day of the year," 18 Dec. 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

15 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for earthquake

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 express emotion in a dramatic way

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