Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?
1897, from Japanese tsunami, from tsu "harbor" + nami "waves."
A very large ocean wave that is caused by an underwater earthquake or volcanic eruption and often causes extreme destruction when it strikes land. Tsunamis can have heights of up to 30 m (98 ft) and reach speeds of 950 km (589 mi) per hour. They are characterized by long wavelengths of up to 200 km (124 mi) and long periods, usually between 10 and 60 minutes. See Note at tidal wave.
A large wave on the ocean, usually caused by an undersea earthquake, a volcanic eruption, or coastal landslide. A tsunami can travel hundreds of miles over the open sea and cause extensive damage when it encounters land. Also called tidal waves.