tsu·​na·​mi | \ (t)su̇-ˈnä-mē How to pronounce tsunami (audio) \
plural tsunamis also tsunami

Definition of tsunami

: a great sea wave produced especially by submarine earth movement or volcanic eruption : tidal wave

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from tsunami

tsunamic \ (t)su̇-​ˈnä-​mik How to pronounce tsunamic (audio) \ adjective

Examples of tsunami in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Where the waves of noise stirred by early buckets and late rallies have tsunami-like force. John King, SFChronicle.com, "A look at why pro basketball and Oracle Arena were a perfect fit," 7 June 2019 Republicans, facing an electoral tsunami that year, basically threw in the towel and let Lieberman soak up conservative votes. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Ned Lamont elected governor of Connecticut," 7 Nov. 2018 Plans also relied on a five-year-old earthquake and tsunami manual that had not anticipated a hurricane would affect the U.S. territory’s entire population of over 3 million. Laignee Barron, Time, "FEMA Says It Was Significantly Unprepared When Hurricane Maria Hit Puerto Rico," 13 July 2018 For example, the final version no longer contains a paragraph noting that FEMA’s hurricane plans had so underestimated disaster impacts that the agency used a five-year-old earthquake and tsunami plan. Frances Robles, New York Times, "FEMA Was Sorely Unprepared for Puerto Rico Hurricane, Report Says," 12 July 2018 Perhaps worse yet — if such a thing is imaginable — the tsunami damaged the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, causing the meltdown of three reactor cores. Allen Pierleoni, sacbee, "William T. Vollmann has a new book and it should scare the hell out of you | The Sacramento Bee," 8 Apr. 2018 The tsunami warning was canceled after no large waves were detected near the metropolis of 400,000, where 54% of Alaska’s population lives. Jim Carlton, WSJ, "Magnitude 7.0 Earthquake Rocks Anchorage," 30 Nov. 2018 Governor Schwarzenegger is confronted by a tsunami of rumors about the 14-year-old son of a former housekeeper. Marcia Desanctis, Town & Country, "Mark Sanford, Act II," 14 Feb. 2013 The area was devastated in 2011 by an earthquake and tsunami and a resulting nuclear disaster. Stephen Wade, The Seattle Times, "Naomi Kawase named to direct 2020 Tokyo Olympic documentary," 23 Oct. 2018

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

1896, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tsunami

Japanese, from tsu harbor + nami wave

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tsunami

Statistics for tsunami

Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tsunami

The first known use of tsunami was in 1896

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tsunami



English Language Learners Definition of tsunami

: a very high, large wave in the ocean that is usually caused by an earthquake under the sea and that can cause great destruction when it reaches land


tsu·​na·​mi | \ su̇-ˈnä-mē How to pronounce tsunami (audio) \

Kids Definition of tsunami

: a large sea wave produced especially by an earthquake or volcanic eruption under the sea : tidal wave

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on tsunami

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tsunami

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tsunami

Nglish: Translation of tsunami for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tsunami

Comments on tsunami

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


showing great care, attention, and effort

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!