tsu·​na·​mi | \(t)su̇-ˈnä-mē \
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 \ adjective

Examples of tsunami in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Along with destructive winds and torrential rain, the system generated a meteotsunami, a tsunami-like surge of waves and water along the Atlantic coast triggered by rapid changes in air pressures, according to the Post’s Capital Weather Gang. Dana Hedgpeth, Washington Post, "‘It was relentless’: Surge of rainwater floods streets, submerges cars in Maryland," 16 May 2018 No sirens sounded in tsunami-vulnerable places like Seward or Kodiak. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Tsunami warning that wasn’t: Alaska emergency authorities investigate test that went awry," 11 May 2018 When there's a significant earthquake at sea or on an island, a tsunami is possible. Dakin Andone, CNN, "Hawaii residents on Big Island under threat of lava, earthquakes and gas," 5 May 2018 In March of 2011 Murakami’s world was literally rocked when an earthquake and resultant tsunami washed over Japan taking thousands of lives and leaving massive destruction. Gaile Robinson, star-telegram, "The Modern goes big and bright with international art star Murakami retrospective," 8 June 2018 In 2013, a tsunami-like wave swept three people off a jetty on Barnegat Inlet. Anthony R. Wood, Philly.com, "That was a 'meteotsunami' that hit Jersey Shore during storm; it wasn't the first time," 16 May 2018 An offshore canyon could collapse, triggering a tsunami that would swamp the Silver Strand and send waves surging through the bay. John Wilkens, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Decades-long march continues to rid San Diego of quake-vulnerable buildings," 13 May 2018 In 2011 an earthquake caused a tsunami that wrecked the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Allen Pierleoni, latimes.com, "William T. Vollmann turns his mammoth talents to climate change," 11 May 2018 The tsunami arrival scene is one of the most riveting, tense and transporting scenes in recent film history. Todd Stewart, OrlandoSentinel.com, "'Twister' turns 22 years old: My top 22 natural disaster films," 10 May 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

2 Nov 2018

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 \

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

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).


something that serves to warn or remind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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!