Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A very large ocean wave caused by an underwater earthquake or volcanic eruption.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A very large and destructive wave, generally caused by a tremendous disturbance in the ocean, such as an undersea earthquake or volcanic eruption.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A great tidal disturbance which may be caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or barometric depressions.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

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

Etymologies

Japanese : tsu, port + nami, wave.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Japanese 津波 / 津浪 (つなみ (tsunami, "seismic sea wave", literally "harbour wave")). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term tsunami comes from two Japanese words that mean "harbor" and "wave."

    What Causes a Tsunami?

  • The word tsunami is Japanese for harbor wave, and many times the worst physical damage comes once the waves enter the confines of a harbor, said Costas Synolakis, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Tsunami Research Center at the University of Southern California.

    msnbc.com: Top msnbc.com headlines

  • The question I find myself asking is: If the word tsunami originates from the Japanese language because earthquakes are a frequent event there why would anyone in their right mind build a nuclear reactor right on top of a fault line?

    The Independent - Frontpage RSS Feed

  • And the Japanese, after all, invented the term tsunami.

    Boing Boing

  • "If the word tsunami originates from the Japanese language because earthquakes are a frequent event there why would anyone in their right mind build a nuclear reactor right on top of a fault line?"

    The Independent - Frontpage RSS Feed

  • In other words, in Japanese the word tsunami seems to cover any huge wave that could wipe out a town, be it caused by an especially high tide, a storm, or earthquake.

    languagehat.com: TIDAL WAVE.

  • In the land that coined the term "tsunami," the word never came up in Nuclear Wonderland.

    Kenny Ausubel: The Sting: Social Biomimicry and The Role of Fraud in Nature

  • Former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger predicts the decision will lead to what he calls a tsunami of challenges to state and local gun laws.

    Supreme Court Review: Campaign Cash, Controversy

  • A tsunami is actually a water-delivery effect, rather than simple energy delivery - there is a considerable volume of water moving, so an island in the middle of the ocean may notice the water level go up a bit, but most water simply moves around the island.

    Cheeseburger Gothic » This is why the Playboy Mansion sits atop a very high hill.

  • And once she lost them -- I mean, in a way it's the big hype, what you call the tsunami of hype or promotion that's launched her, also did her in, because it was both the telecast was so bad at the start, that people tuned it out.

    CNN Transcript Apr 13, 2008

Comments

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  • ...the cities whose shit/surges into the sea in tsunamis...

    - Peter Reading, C, 1984

    September 28, 2008

  • Heehee! Excellent story, pterodactyl! And I do sympathize, having a few hearing-impaired friends myself. Thank heavens they have good senses of humor. :-)

    April 5, 2008

  • Because reesetee asked... pterodactyl does not pronounce the "P" in his username. And thereby hangs a tale. See my user page for the (rather silly) story.

    April 5, 2008

  • Especially on a tsunami page!

    April 5, 2008

  • Comedy gold!

    April 5, 2008

  • Because if he didn't, he would be Ewar Woowar!

    April 5, 2008

  • Let's tell it together rt:

    Why does Edward Woodward have four d's in his name?

    April 5, 2008

  • You'd better tell it, yarb. Not everyone knows about that gem. ;-)

    April 5, 2008

  • Yes. I will never tire of that joke!

    April 5, 2008

  • The one about the four Ds?

    April 5, 2008

  • This reminds me of the Edward Woodward joke...

    April 5, 2008

  • Oh no, c_b. The T is silent. So are all the Es.

    April 4, 2008

  • I only ever indulge in T with the little finger extended elegantly.

    April 4, 2008

  • reesetee, do you pronounce your T?

    April 4, 2008

  • She...she did?

    *wants to see a talking guinea pig*

    April 3, 2008

  • I pronounce my P.

    April 3, 2008

  • I had a guinea pig named Pfeffer, and she pronounced the P in her name.

    April 3, 2008

  • I'm wondering whether pterodactyl pronounces the p in his/her name. ;-)

    April 3, 2008

  • Yes, I pronounce the T, just like in tsar.

    April 3, 2008

  • Male's hairy nipples
    Are like volcanoes to fleas...

    April 3, 2008

  • Yes, the T is to be pronounced (according to the few Japanese lessons I attended).

    The explanation of the etymology is this.
    「津波」の語は、通常の波とは異なり、沖合を航行する船舶の被害は少ないにもかかわらず、港(津)では大きな被害をもたらすことに由来する。日本は、近海の地震の他、遠隔地の地震からも被害を受ける場合がある。「津波(浪)」の語が文献に現れる最古の例は『駿府記』(作者不詳、慶長16年 - 元和元年)で、慶長16年10月28日(1611年12月2日)に発生した慶長三陸地震についての記述「政宗領所海涯人屋、波濤大漲来、悉流失す。溺死者五千人。世曰津浪云々」である。なお、表記は「津波(浪)」の他に「海立」、「震汐」、「海嘯」と書く場合があり、これらすべて「つなみ」と読む。
    英語で、Tsunamiという語が初めて使われたのは、ラフカディオ・ハーン(小泉八雲)が1897年(明治30年)に出版した著作集「仏の畠の落ち穂」 (Gleaming in Budda-Fields) の中に収録された『生神様』 (A Living God) の中とされる。濱口梧陵をモデルにした1『生神様』では、地震後に沿岸の村を飲み込んだ巨大な波を「Tsunami」と現地語(日本語)で表現した。これが、出版された文献で確認できるところの初出とされる。その後の事例は、1904年の地震学の学会報告にはじまり、地震、気象の学術論文等に限られていたようである。元々英語圏では"tidal wave" という語が使われてきたが、この語は本来潮汐 (tide) による波を指し、地震による波にこの語を使うのは学問的にふさわしくないとされ、現在では tsunami が用いられる。研究者の間では"seismic sea wave"(「地震性海洋波」)という語が使われることもあったが、あまり一般的ではなかった。1946年、アリューシャン地震でハワイに津波の大被害があった際、日系移民が "tsunami" という語を用いたことから、ハワイでこの語が使われるようになり、被害を受けて設置された太平洋津波警報センターの名称も1949年には Pacific Tsunami Warning Center とされたことから、アメリカ合衆国ではこの語が広く用いられるようになり、その後、1968年にアメリカの海洋学者ヴァン・ドーン (Van Dorn) が学術用語として使うことを提案し2、国際語化した。
    日本国外も含め「津波は引き波から来る」という伝承が広く広まっているが、必ず引き波から来るわけではなく誤解である。しかし、引き波に対して津波を警戒することは有効であり、スマトラ沖地震ではその教訓により死者を出さなかった地域がある。
    「ツナミ」は学術用語として広く国際語になっていたが、スマトラ沖地震による津波が激甚な被害をもたらしたことが世界中に報道されたことを契機に、一気に各国の言語で一般語になった。
    NHK テレビ・ラジオの非常放送(英語)では始めに「tsunami, tidal wave」と呼称される。

    April 3, 2008

  • Do you pronounce the T? I do, but I'm beginning to suspect I'm the only one who does.

    April 3, 2008

  • I need more Japanese friends. Now.

    November 21, 2007

  • Meaning 'harbour wave' according to every source I've seen.

    November 21, 2007

  • Original meaning great wind rather than great wave, I'm told.

    November 21, 2007

  • Ha! Great poem!

    August 20, 2007

  • Woah, that's deep.

    Or shallow, depending on your point of view. ;-)

    August 20, 2007

  • Mud puddle ripples
    Are like tsunamis to fleas,
    Yo! Dudes! The surf's up!

    August 20, 2007