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tornado

[tawr-ney-doh]
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noun, plural tor·na·does, tor·na·dos.
  1. a localized, violently destructive windstorm occurring over land, especially in the Middle West, and characterized by a long, funnel-shaped cloud extending toward the ground and made visible by condensation and debris.Compare waterspout(def 3).
  2. a violent squall or whirlwind of small extent, as one of those occurring during the summer on the west coast of Africa.
  3. a violent outburst, as of emotion or activity.
  4. (initial capital letter) Military. a supersonic, two-seat, multipurpose military aircraft produced jointly by West Germany, Britain, and Italy and capable of flying in darkness and bad weather.
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Origin of tornado

1550–60; apparently by metathesis < Spanish tronada thunderstorm, noun use of feminine of tronado, past participle of tronar < Latin tonāre to thunder; replacing 16th-century ternado, with unexplained e
Related formstor·nad·ic [tawr-nad-ik, -ney-dik] /tɔrˈnæd ɪk, -ˈneɪ dɪk/, adjectivetor·na·do·like, adjective
Can be confusedcyclone hurricane tidal wave tornado tsunami typhoon
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tornadoes

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The paths of the tornadoes we have referred to conclusively show this.

  • Tornadoes are unknown here, but sometimes a hurricane will sweep the upper ranges.

  • He may even insure it against hail and tornadoes while it is growing.

    Cyrus Hall McCormick

    Herbert Newton Casson

  • The time of the tornadoes—May to July—was drawing near, and preparation was necessary.

  • The birds, the flowers, and the tornadoes are all busiest in spring.

    Reading the Weather

    Thomas Morris Longstreth


British Dictionary definitions for tornadoes

tornado

noun plural -does or -dos
  1. Also called: cyclone, (US and Canadian informal) twister a violent storm with winds whirling around a small area of extremely low pressure, usually characterized by a dark funnel-shaped cloud causing damage along its path
  2. a small but violent squall or whirlwind, such as those occurring on the West African coast
  3. any violently active or destructive person or thing
  4. (often capital) a type of dinghy, designed to be crewed by two people
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Derived Formstornadic (tɔːˈnædɪk), adjectivetornado-like, adjective

Word Origin

C16: probably alteration of Spanish tronada thunderstorm (from tronar to thunder, from Latin tonāre), through influence of tornar to turn, from Latin tornāre to turn in a lathe
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 tornadoes

tornado

n.

1550s, navigator's word for violent windy thunderstorm in the tropical Atlantic, probably a mangled borrowing from Spanish tronada "thunderstorm," from tronar "to thunder," from Latin tonare "to thunder" (see thunder). Metathesis of -o- and -r- in modern spelling influenced by Spanish tornar "to twist, turn," from Latin tornare "to turn." Meaning "extremely violent whirlwind" is first found 1620s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tornadoes in Science

tornado

[tôr-nādō]
  1. A violently rotating column of air extending from a cumulonimbus cloud to the Earth, ranging in width from a few meters to more than a kilometer and whirling at speeds between 64 km (40 mi) and 509 km (316 mi) per hour or higher with comparable updrafts in the center of the vortex. The vortex may contain several smaller vortices rotating within it. Tornadoes typically take the form of a twisting, funnel-shaped cloud extending downward from storm clouds, often reaching the ground, and dissolving into thin, ropelike clouds as the tornado dissipates. Tornadoes may travel from a few dozen meters to hundreds of kilometers along the ground. Tornadoes usually form in the tail end of violent thunderstorms, with weaker funnels sometimes forming in groups along a leading squall line of an advancing cold front or in areas near a hurricane. The strongest tornadoes, which may last several hours and travel hundreds of kilometers, can cause massive destruction in a relatively narrow strip along their path. The causes of tornado formation are not well understood.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

tornadoes in Culture

tornado

In meteorology, a storm in which high-speed winds move in a funnel-shaped pattern.

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Note

Tornadoes occur chiefly during thunderstorms.

Note

If the tip of the funnel touches the ground, it can cause extensive damage.

Note

Tornadoes are common in the Middle West.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.