A tsunami is an enormous sea wave that erupts and reaches land. You should be afraid of them, because a tsunami can destroy a coastal region in minutes.

Japan has had the misfortune of experiencing many tsunamis. They're caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions under the sea. In Japanese, tsu means "harbor" and nami means "wave." We sometimes use tsunami metaphorically, to describe really destructive events. After your parents came home, they compared the mess from your party to a tsunami.

Definitions of tsunami

n a cataclysm resulting from a destructive sea wave caused by an earthquake or volcanic eruption

“a colossal tsunami destroyed the Minoan civilization in minutes”
Type of:
calamity, cataclysm, catastrophe, disaster, tragedy
an event resulting in great loss and misfortune
moving ridge, wave
one of a series of ridges that moves across the surface of a liquid (especially across a large body of water)

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.