[ tsoo-nah-mee ]
/ tsʊˈnɑ mi /


an unusually large sea wave produced by a seaquake or undersea volcanic eruption.

Nearby words

  1. tsp.,
  2. tsr,
  3. tss,
  4. tsta,
  5. tsugaru strait,
  6. tsuris,
  7. tsushima,
  8. tsushima current,
  9. tsushima strait,
  10. tsutsugamushi disease

Origin of tsunami

1905–10; < Japanese, equivalent to tsu harbor (earlier tu) + nami wave

Also called seismic sea wave.

Related formstsu·na·mic [tsoo-nah-mik, -nam-ik] /tsʊˈnɑ mɪk, -ˈnæm ɪk/, adjective

Can be confusedcyclone hurricane tidal wave tornado tsunami typhoon

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tsunami

British Dictionary definitions for tsunami


/ (tsʊˈnæmɪ) /

noun plural -mis or -mi

a large, often destructive, sea wave produced by a submarine earthquake, subsidence, or volcanic eruption. Sometimes incorrectly called a tidal wave
a sudden increase in or overwhelming number or volume ofthe tsunami of Olympic visitors

Word Origin for tsunami

from Japanese, from tsu port + nami wave

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 tsunami



1897, from Japanese tsunami, from tsu "harbor" + nami "waves."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for tsunami


[ tsōō-nämē ]

A very large ocean wave that is caused by an underwater earthquake or volcanic eruption and often causes extreme destruction when it strikes land. Tsunamis can have heights of up to 30 m (98 ft) and reach speeds of 950 km (589 mi) per hour. They are characterized by long wavelengths of up to 200 km (124 mi) and long periods, usually between 10 and 60 minutes. See Note at tidal wave.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for tsunami


[ (tsooh-nah-mee) ]

A large wave on the ocean, usually caused by an undersea earthquake, a volcanic eruption, or coastal landslide. A tsunami can travel hundreds of miles over the open sea and cause extensive damage when it encounters land. Also called tidal waves.

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.