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tidal wave

(not in technical use) a large, destructive ocean wave, produced by a seaquake, hurricane, or strong wind.
Compare tsunami.
either of the two great wavelike swellings of the ocean surface that move around the earth on opposite sides and give rise to tide, caused by the attraction of the moon and sun.
any widespread or powerful movement, opinion, or tendency:
a tidal wave of public indignation.
Origin of tidal wave
First recorded in 1820-30
Can be confused Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for tidal wave
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The tidal wave of progress, once repulsed, is not likely to subside forever.

    The Arena Various
  • A great Peruvian earthquake sent a tidal wave into the Red Sea.

  • That seething mob at Presho was only the spray cast by the tidal wave.

    Land of the Burnt Thigh

    Edith Eudora Kohl
  • At any time a tidal wave is likely to sweep in from the frowning shores of Michigan.

    The House

    Eugene Field
  • The conventional returned as a tidal wave and flooded the citizen.

    Sixes and Sevens

    O. Henry
British Dictionary definitions for tidal wave

tidal wave

a name (not accepted in technical usage) for tsunami
an unusually large incoming wave, often caused by high winds and spring tides
a forceful and widespread movement in public opinion, action, etc
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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tidal wave in Science
tidal wave  
  1. Either of the two swells or crests of surface ocean water created by the gravitational effects of the Moon and Sun and circling the globe on opposite sides to create the daily periods of high and low tides. Also called tidal bulge.

  2. An unusual rise in the level of water along a seacoast, as from a storm or a combination of wind and tide. Also called storm surge.

  3. A tsunami.

Our Living Language  : The term tidal wave is used in everyday speech to refer to a gigantic and enormously destructive wave caused by an underwater earthquake or volcanic eruption—what scientists would properly call a tsunami. When scientists use the word tidal wave, they normally are referring to an unusually large wave or bulge of water that sometimes occurs around a high tide. These tidal waves are certainly big and powerful, but they are tiny in comparison with tsunamis.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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