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

In Japan, soon after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands, authorities issued warnings that scammers were fraudulently seeking donations for victims. Alexa Díaz, latimes.com, "Watch out for scammers trying to take advantage of your earthquake anxiety," 9 July 2019 Advertising In 2014, the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction estimated a magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami could kill up to 7,600 students and cause $4 billion in damage and losses to schools. Evan Bush, The Seattle Times, "If a big earthquake hits, many Washington schools at ‘high risk’," 1 July 2019 The 45-year-old, who has been in charge of multicultural affairs at City Hall since 2009, became interested in how to better assist foreigners during disasters after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Isabella Steger, Quartz, "A less polite version of Japanese is helping foreigners stay safe during disasters," 27 June 2019 Tepco has been seeking to restart the plant under tighter safety regulations adopted after a Tepco nuclear power station in Fukushima suffered meltdowns caused by damage from a March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. Peter Landers, WSJ, "Japan Earthquake Knocks Out Power; Tsunami Warning Is Lifted," 18 June 2019 Nuclear energy made up about one-third of Japan's energy supply before 2011, when a massive earthquake and tsunami destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant's cooling systems, sending three of its reactors into meltdowns. Fox News, "Correction: Japan-Energy story," 10 June 2019 When an earthquake and tsunami hit the country in 2011, its continued centrality to the industry quickly became apparent. The Economist, "The technology industry is rife with bottlenecks," 6 June 2019 In the case of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi, the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami caused the plant's catastrophic failures. National Geographic, "What is nuclear energy and is it a viable resource?," 26 Mar. 2019 Last year, a tsunami hit the city of Palu in Sulawesi, killing thousands. Reuters, The Mercury News, "Quake causes panic in eastern Indonesia; one killed," 14 July 2019

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

10 Aug 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).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

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!