noun, plural tornadoes, tornados.
a localized, violently destructive windstorm occurring over land, especially in the Middle West, and characterized by a long, funnel-shaped cloud extending toward the ground and made visible by condensation and debris. Compare waterspout ( def 3 ).
a violent squall or whirlwind of small extent, as one of those occurring during the summer on the west coast of Africa.
a violent outburst, as of emotion or activity.
(initial capital letter) Military. a supersonic, two-seat, multipurpose military aircraft produced jointly by West Germany, Britain, and Italy and capable of flying in darkness and bad weather.

1550–60; apparently by metathesis < Spanish tronada thunderstorm, noun use of feminine of tronado, past participle of tronar < Latin tonāre to thunder; replacing 16th-century ternado, with unexplained e

tornadic [tawr-nad-ik, -ney-dik] , adjective
tornadolike, adjective

cyclone, hurricane, tidal wave, tornado, tsunami, typhoon. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To tornadoes
World English Dictionary
tornado (tɔːˈneɪdəʊ)
n , pl -does, -dos
1.  cyclone, Also called: twister a violent storm with winds whirling around a small area of extremely low pressure, usually characterized by a dark funnel-shaped cloud causing damage along its path
2.  a small but violent squall or whirlwind, such as those occurring on the West African coast
3.  any violently active or destructive person or thing
4.  (often capital) a type of dinghy, designed to be crewed by two people
[C16: probably alteration of Spanish tronada thunderstorm (from tronar to thunder, from Latin tonāre), through influence of tornar to turn, from Latin tornāre to turn in a lathe]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

1556, navigator's word for violent windy thunderstorm in the tropical Atlantic, probably a mangled borrowing from Sp. tronada "thunderstorm," from tronar "to thunder," from L. tonare "to thunder" (see thunder). Metathesis of -o- and -r- in modern spelling infl. by Sp. tornar
"to twist, turn," from L. tornare "to turn." Meaning "extremely violent whirlwind" is first found 1626.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Science Dictionary
tornado   (tôr-nā'dō)  Pronunciation Key 
A violently rotating column of air extending from a cumulonimbus cloud to the Earth, ranging in width from a few meters to more than a kilometer and whirling at speeds between 64 km (40 mi) and 509 km (316 mi) per hour or higher with comparable updrafts in the center of the vortex. The vortex may contain several smaller vortices rotating within it. Tornadoes typically take the form of a twisting, funnel-shaped cloud extending downward from storm clouds, often reaching the ground, and dissolving into thin, ropelike clouds as the tornado dissipates. Tornadoes may travel from a few dozen meters to hundreds of kilometers along the ground. Tornadoes usually form in the tail end of violent thunderstorms, with weaker funnels sometimes forming in groups along a leading squall line of an advancing cold front or in areas near a hurricane. The strongest tornadoes, which may last several hours and travel hundreds of kilometers, can cause massive destruction in a relatively narrow strip along their path. The causes of tornado formation are not well understood.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

tornado definition

In meteorology, a storm in which high-speed winds move in a funnel-shaped pattern.

Note: Tornadoes occur chiefly during thunderstorms.
Note: If the tip of the funnel touches the ground, it can cause extensive damage.
Note: Tornadoes are common in the Middle West.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
We try to protect ourselves against volcanoes and tornadoes, but they overcome
  us despite our best precautions.
Floods, tornadoes are catching lot of limelight and attention.
She unrolled her window and flung the pit into a wind suddenly heavy with a
  smell of tornadoes.
When a hurricane grows as powerful as this, it will actually carry tornadoes
  inside it.
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature