tor·​na·​do | \ tȯr-ˈnā-(ˌ)dō How to pronounce tornado (audio) \
plural tornadoes or tornados

Definition of tornado

1a : a violent destructive whirling wind accompanied by a funnel-shaped cloud that progresses in a narrow path over the land
b : a squall accompanying a thunderstorm in Africa
2 : a violent windstorm : whirlwind
3 archaic : a tropical thunderstorm

Examples of tornado in a Sentence

in the path of a tornado

Recent Examples on the Web

The tornado that hit the state capital of Jefferson City trapped many people in their homes and at least 24 people were treated for injuries, officials said. Joe Barrett, WSJ, "Powerful Tornadoes Hit Missouri," 23 May 2019 As of Friday, not a single tornado has been reported in the state so far in 2018. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "Oklahoma hasn't had a single tornado yet this year but that could change next week," 27 Apr. 2018 Not a single tornado has been reported this year in Oklahoma – one of the world’s twister capitals – and that is a record. Anthony R. Wood,, "Tornado scarcity sets welcome record. It's related to our reluctant spring," 26 Apr. 2018 Another tornado was reported north of Greensboro in the Monroeton community southwest of Reidsville. Mark Price, charlotteobserver, "'I literally thought we were going to die,' NC woman films close call with likely tornado | Charlotte Observer," 16 Apr. 2018 And just hours ago, the National Weather Services issued a tornado watch for the Greater Cincinnati area until 8 p.m. Tuesday. Carol Motsinger,, "44 years ago today, the deadliest outbreak of tornadoes on record tore through the Midwest," 3 Apr. 2018 The Houston area is under a tornado watch until 9 p.m. today, according to the National Weather Service. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "Houston area under tornado watch until 9 p.m.," 28 Mar. 2018 Several tornadoes have also been reported, and the survey teams will determine when and where touchdowns occurred and how strong those storms were. Leigh Morgan,, "How many tornadoes hit Alabama on Monday? NWS teams to survey storm damage," 20 Mar. 2018 The most destruction appears to have been in Lee County, Ala., where at least two tornadoes, one of them at least a half-mile wide, touched down, forecasters said. Paul Berger, WSJ, "Death Toll Tops 20 After Tornadoes Hit Southeast," 4 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tornado.' 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 tornado

1556, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for tornado

modification of Spanish tronada thunderstorm, from tronar to thunder, from Latin tonare — more at thunder entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near tornado





Tornado Alley

tornado lantern


Statistics for tornado

Last Updated

9 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for tornado

The first known use of tornado was in 1556

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English Language Learners Definition of tornado

: a violent and destructive storm in which powerful winds move around a central point


tor·​na·​do | \ tȯr-ˈnā-dō How to pronounce tornado (audio) \
plural tornadoes or tornados

Kids Definition of tornado

: a violent whirling wind accompanied by a cloud that is shaped like a funnel and moves overland in a narrow path

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