El Niño was our Word of the Day on 09/03/2014. Hear the podcast!
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Each year around Christmas time, a warm equatorial current flows southward along the coast of Peru. In the 19th century, Peruvian fisherman named that annual current "El Niño" in honor of the Christ child (el niño means "the child" in Spanish). Later, when scientists noted that in some years this warm current flow is more intense than usual, they adopted the name and applied it to that more potent but erratic climatic phenomenon. Now El Niño is used almost exclusively for the severe episodes rather than for the annual ones to which it was originally applied.
Origin and Etymology of el niño
First Known Use: 1896See Words from the same year
EL NIÑO Defined for English Language Learners
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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about El Niño
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