a transient storm of lightning and thunder, usually with rain and gusty winds, sometimes with hail or snow, produced by cumulonimbus clouds.

Origin of thunderstorm

First recorded in 1645–55; thunder + storm
Also called electrical storm. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for thunderstorm

deluge, downpour, rain, flood, hail, storm, drizzle, sleet, rainstorm, cloudburst

Examples from the Web for thunderstorm

Contemporary Examples of thunderstorm

Historical Examples of thunderstorm

  • Often, during a thunderstorm a tree had been hit by lightning.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • At dawn the Cyclops woke, and his awakening was like a thunderstorm.

    Old Greek Folk Stories Told Anew

    Josephine Preston Peabody

  • I thought it was a thunderstorm, Dering told me he heard nothing.'

    Echoes of the War

    J. M. Barrie

  • "I think there is going to be a thunderstorm," said Dorothy.

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • Mosquitoes, it seemed to me, were never so numerous or vicious as after this thunderstorm.

British Dictionary definitions for thunderstorm



a storm caused by strong rising air currents and characterized by thunder and lightning and usually heavy rain or hail
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

Word Origin and History for thunderstorm

1650s, from thunder (n.) + storm (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

thunderstorm in Science



A storm of heavy rain accompanied by lightning, thunder, wind, and sometimes hail. Thunderstorms occur when moist air near the ground becomes heated, especially in the summer, and rises, forming cumulonimbus clouds that produce precipitation. Electrical charges accumulate at the bases of the clouds until lightning is discharged. Air in the path of the lightning expands as a result of being heated, causing thunder. Thunderstorms can also be caused by temperature changes triggered by volcanic eruptions and forest fires, and they occur with much greater frequency at the equatorial regions than in polar regions.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.