[ tahy-foon ]
/ taɪˈfun /
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Meteorology. a tropical cyclone in the western Pacific Ocean or northern Indian Ocean, having sustained winds of at least 64 knots (74 miles per hour, 33 meters per second): typhoons form in waters with surface temperatures of about 80°F (27°C), intensifying as temperatures rise.Compare hurricane (def. 1).
Typhoon, Military.
  1. a single-engine British ground attack aircraft of World War II.
  2. NATO's name for a class of nuclear-powered Soviet ballistic missile submarine carrying 20 multiwarhead missiles.


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Origin of typhoon

First recorded in 1580–90; alteration (influenced by Greek tȳphôn “violent wind, whirlwind”) of earlier touffon, tufan, from Arabic ṭūfān “hurricane, deluge” (perhaps from Greek tȳphôn ), from dialectal Chinese (Guangdong) taaî fung, equivalent to Chinese dàfēng “great wind”


ty·phon·ic [tahy-fon-ik], /taɪˈfɒn ɪk/, adjective


cyclone, hurricane, tidal wave, tornado, tsunami, typhoon
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What’s the difference between a typhoon, a hurricane, and a cyclone?

Typhoon, hurricane, and cyclone are all terms for big storms.

Although the word cyclone is often used to refer to a big storm, it is, technically speaking, a large-scale, atmospheric wind-and-pressure system characterized by low pressure at its center and by circular wind motion. Because these generally produce clouds and precipitation, cyclones are often simply referred to as storms. When such storms form around the tropics, they are called tropical cyclones. Tropical cyclones are classified based on their strength. They may start as tropical depressions and progress to tropical storms. The most severe tropical cyclones—those with winds of 74 mph (119 k/mh) or more—are called hurricanes or typhoons. Which term is used depends on where the storm occurs.

Generally, storms that form over the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico are called hurricanes, while those that form over the Pacific Ocean are called typhoons. (The word hurricane is sometimes used for storms that form over the eastern or central North Pacific Ocean.)

Cyclones rotate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.

In casual use, the word cyclone is sometimes used to refer to a tornado (but it is not used this way in scientific contexts).

Here’s an example of typhoon, hurricane, and cyclone used correctly in a sentence.

Example: There have been many devastating cyclones this season, including a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico and multiple typhoons in the Pacific.

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between typhoons, hurricanes, and cyclones.

Quiz yourself on typhoon vs. hurricane vs. cyclone!

Should typhoon, hurricane, or cyclone be used in the following sentence?

Meteorologists are tracking a _____ that has formed in the Atlantic Ocean with winds exceeding 100 mph.

How to use typhoon in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for typhoon

/ (taɪˈfuːn) /

a violent tropical storm or cyclone, esp in the China seas and W Pacific
a violent storm of India

Derived forms of typhoon

typhonic (taɪˈfɒnɪk), adjective

Word Origin for typhoon

C16: from Chinese tai fung great wind, from tai great + fung wind; influenced by Greek tuphōn whirlwind
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

Scientific definitions for typhoon

[ tī-fōōn ]

A violent cyclonic storm occurring in the western Pacific Ocean. See Note at cyclone.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for typhoon


In meteorology, a type of cyclone occurring in the western regions of the Pacific Ocean.

notes for typhoon

A typhoon is similar to a hurricane in levels of destructiveness.
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.