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 Stan Gates, 66, could tell it was a tornado that wrecked his barn instead of powerful hurricane winds because of how the structure’s 18-foot wood beams — buried five feet into the ground — were plucked up and twisted. Washington Post, "Louisiana surveys Delta’s devastation and wonder how much federal aid they can expect," 11 Oct. 2020 Beginning on July 1, 2021, residential customers will receive a $25 credit for each day their power is out longer than four days following a hurricane, tornado, snowstorm or other emergency. Michael Hamad,, "A new bill requires Connecticut utility companies to pay up when the power is out for an extended period. Here are 7 ways it affects customers.," 7 Oct. 2020 Later, many of those business leaders donated time and money to help the school rebuild the gym after tornado damage and to improve students' access to technology during the pandemic. Vandana Ravikumar, Dallas News, "Advocacy and accountability key for Dallas educator who is first Black man named Texas Teacher of the Year," 3 Oct. 2020 That dark distinction belongs to the April 14, 1886, tornado that ravaged St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids, killing 72 people. Matt Mckinney, Star Tribune, "What was the most destructive tornado in Minnesota history?," 18 Sep. 2020 The Langs sustained tornado damage during the infamous 2011 outbreak. William Thornton |, al, "Alabama’s real estate market resilient during pandemic," 23 Aug. 2020 Amazon spokesperson Lisa Levandowski said that the company had prioritized the risk of a potentially life-threatening tornado in Kenosha, following guidance from FEMA, and that there hadn’t been any increase in cases linked to the event. NBC News, "Lack of oversight and transparency leave Amazon employees in the dark on Covid-19," 30 Sep. 2020 The average tornado in the Great Plains caused 0.12 deaths. Thomas Frank, Scientific American, "Migrating Tornadoes Bring Heightened Danger to the Southeast," 24 Sep. 2020 The fund provided more than $4 million to victims of the April 2011 tornado outbreaks. William Thornton |, al, "Hurricane Sally: How you can help the victims," 17 Sep. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tornado

Time Traveler for tornado

Time Traveler

The first known use of tornado was in 1556

See more words from the same year

Statistics for tornado

Last Updated

18 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tornado.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tornado


How to pronounce tornado (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on tornado

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Here Be Dragons: A Creature Identification Quiz

  • monster werewolf photo
  • Which is a synonym of werewolf?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!