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tidal wave

(not in technical use) a large, destructive ocean wave, produced by a seaquake, hurricane, or strong wind.
Compare tsunami.
either of the two great wavelike swellings of the ocean surface that move around the earth on opposite sides and give rise to tide, caused by the attraction of the moon and sun.
any widespread or powerful movement, opinion, or tendency:
a tidal wave of public indignation.
Origin of tidal wave
Can be confused Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for tidal-wave
Historical Examples
  • The tidal-wave carried him and twenty others to the end of the room.

    H. R. Edwin Lefevre
  • Barring earthquake or tidal-wave, the worst had already befallen him.

    Adventure Jack London
  • The earthquake had given rise, as it commonly does on that coast, to a tidal-wave, which was now rushing inland.

  • Like a tidal-wave breaking on the shore it came to Francesco in a sudden flood of understanding.

    The Hill of Venus Nathan Gallizier
  • They had seen a tidal-wave crumple up a breakwater which had cost them a half-year of labor, and slide it into the ocean.

    The White Mice Richard Harding Davis
  • The mystical viewpoint takes into account the fact that there is a cosmic law which acts like a tidal-wave.

  • Then the totality of it all swept home to him, swept through his entire startled being as a tidal-wave sweeps over a coast-shoal.

    The Shadow Arthur Stringer
  • There can hardly be a doubt that this so-called “tidal-wave” was synchronous with the greatest of the explosions.

British Dictionary definitions for tidal-wave

tidal wave

a name (not accepted in technical usage) for tsunami
an unusually large incoming wave, often caused by high winds and spring tides
a forceful and widespread movement in public opinion, action, etc
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
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tidal-wave in Science
tidal wave  
  1. Either of the two swells or crests of surface ocean water created by the gravitational effects of the Moon and Sun and circling the globe on opposite sides to create the daily periods of high and low tides. Also called tidal bulge.

  2. An unusual rise in the level of water along a seacoast, as from a storm or a combination of wind and tide. Also called storm surge.

  3. A tsunami.

Our Living Language  : The term tidal wave is used in everyday speech to refer to a gigantic and enormously destructive wave caused by an underwater earthquake or volcanic eruption—what scientists would properly call a tsunami. When scientists use the word tidal wave, they normally are referring to an unusually large wave or bulge of water that sometimes occurs around a high tide. These tidal waves are certainly big and powerful, but they are tiny in comparison with tsunamis.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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