from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A warming of the ocean surface off the western coast of South America that occurs every 4 to 12 years when upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water does not occur. It causes die-offs of plankton and fish and affects Pacific jet stream winds, altering storm tracks and creating unusual weather patterns in various parts of the world.
American Spanish, from Spanish, the Christ child (from its onset being around Christmastide) : el, the (from Latin ille; see al-1 in Indo-European roots) + niño, child (from Old Spanish ninno, from Vulgar Latin *nīnnus).(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)