Definition of thunder in English:



  • 1[mass noun] A loud rumbling or crashing noise heard after a lightning flash due to the expansion of rapidly heated air.

    ‘there was a crash of thunder’
    ‘thunder rolled through the mountains’
    • ‘We hear thunder because lightning heats the air to more than 43,000 degrees, causing the air to quickly expand.’
    • ‘Why don't hurricanes have much lightning and thunder even though they are made of thunderstorms?’
    • ‘In fact the last hour on the course was played out to the accompaniment of claps of thunder and flashes of lightning, but it stayed dry.’
    • ‘The wind was now strong and cold, with rain, hail and an occasional flash of lightning and roll of thunder.’
    • ‘Count the seconds between the lightning and the thunder, each second represents 300 m distance from the thunderstorm.’
    • ‘We had driving snow, with flashes of blue lightning and rolling thunder.’
    • ‘Flash floods with thunder and lightning were rampant at the weekend.’
    • ‘Begin your turnaround when you hear thunder (which means lightning is one to ten miles away).’
    • ‘Lightning finally flashed and seconds after thunder boomed.’
    • ‘In Summer, storms with thunder, lightning and hail are quite common, and sometimes even mini-tornadoes are reported!’
    • ‘There were hailstones, rarely heard loud thunder, lightning, strong gusty winds and sheets of rain.’
    • ‘These clouds often bring thunder and lightning, and can also bring funnel clouds or even tornadoes.’
    • ‘Take a dark rainy night, with thunder rolling and lightning flashing and it would be perfect.’
    • ‘With no warning or dimming of lights, the Stanley Theatre suddenly shook with loud thunder and lightning.’
    • ‘A thunderstorm hit us with no warning and we lay soaked, silent and shivering with cold as the lightning and thunder crashed around us.’
    • ‘I ran out of the shop and as I did so there was a loud clap of thunder and a flash of lightning.’
    • ‘Seers interpreted claps of thunder, lightning flashes or the condition of a sacrificed animal's entrails.’
    • ‘If you see lightning or hear thunder, head for shelter immediately.’
    • ‘The lighting flashed continuously and rumbling thunder followed.’
    • ‘It started to rain, with flashes of lightning and booms of thunder sounding in the distance.’
    thunderclap, thunder crack, thunder roll, roll of thunder, peal of thunder, rumble of thunder, crack of thunder, crash of thunder, rumbling, crashing, roar
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A loud, deep resounding noise.
      ‘you can hear the thunder of the falls in the distance’
      • ‘Near the fall, our voices are lost in its thunder, blown away by the cool wind it makes.’
      • ‘We could not talk above the roaring thunder of machines making material.’
      • ‘Interspersed with this was the terrifying thunder of planes and the blast of the bombs.’
      • ‘A faint, high pitched whine grew and began to pulse through the ship, a counterpoint to the deeper thunder of the turbines.’
      • ‘It is an astonishing sound: not so much the roar of dirty thunder as the luminous thrum of precision engineering yielding to the control of an expert driver.’
      • ‘Was that Anton Karas's haunting zither film score I sensed above the low thunder of water.’
      • ‘The thunder of the drums rang out around Newbridge town centre on Friday night, sounding the start of Bealtaine, the town s annual arts festival.’
      rumble, boom, roar, blast, pound, thud, thump, bang, ring, grumble, growl, resound, reverberate, echo, beat
      rumble, rumbling, boom, booming, roar, roaring, pounding, thud, thudding, thump, thumping, crash, crashing, bang, banging, ring, ringing, grumble, growl, resounding, reverberation, echo
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Used to refer to an angry facial expression or tone of voice.
      ‘‘I am Brother Joachim,’ he announced in a voice like thunder’
      • ‘Malcolm's voice was like a clap of thunder, startling everyone at the table.’
      • ‘His mother's voice rang out through the room like cracking thunder.’
      • ‘God speaks to you in this book as much as if he came to the top of Sinai and lifted up his voice with thunder…’
      • ‘All I saw were more people, their faces filled with hate, their voices rising to a furious thunder.’
      • ‘The building rang with a tremendous shout, and another, and another, and then it echoed deep loud groans that gathered strength as they swelled out, like angry thunder.’
      • ‘No wonder he looks almost orgasmic as he says in a voice of thunder, ‘I have the powerrrrr!’’
      • ‘The thunder of angry critics everywhere began to resonate.’
      • ‘With a voice oscillating between organ-like thunder and strangled quietness, Gambon brings out Hamm's terminal desperation.’
      • ‘Hear the thunder in his voice while his tongue is on fire, see him blush with every word - for his heart is a liar.’
      • ‘Her voice was thunder, her breath clouds, her tears rain.’
      • ‘So, as the righteous thunder continues to rumble from American leaders, the issue of weapons inspections is habitually skewed.’
      • ‘Jenny shouted with a voice of thunder that shook the air in a composed earthquake.’
      • ‘Is he deaf to the unceasing thunder of millions upon millions of voices in the streets of the world declaring peace on war?’
      • ‘"Out," he said, his voice sounding like rolling thunder.’
    3. 1.3dated [as exclamation]Used to express emphasis, anger, or incredulity.
      ‘none of this did the remotest good, but, by thunder, it kept the union activists feeling good’


  • 1Thunder sounds.

    ‘it began to thunder’
    • ‘It is thundering here now and the whole building shakes.’
    • ‘When you hear it thunder, don't run under a tree.’
    • ‘A correspondent with two Spaniels, for example, claimed that his dogs always know when it is thundering and lightning outside.’
    • ‘It was thundering and lightning all day, which is scary when you are using metal poles.’
    • ‘It's not only raining, it's thundering, which is unusual for November.’
    1. 1.1Make a loud, deep resounding noise.
      ‘the motorcycle thundered into life’
      ‘the train thundered through the night’
      • ‘We ran for the exit, the sound of feet thundering behind us.’
      • ‘The sound of a thousand horse hooves thundering through the streets resounded through the old building.’
      • ‘The train thundered past him, obliterating his view of his past.’
      • ‘She is distracted by the splintering noises thundering in her ears.’
      • ‘A sudden flash and a deep rumble thundered across the heaven.’
      • ‘Deep growls and explosions thundered through the air as clouds of black volcanic ash coated the surroundings.’
      • ‘His heartbeat seemed to thunder in his ears with excitement.’
      • ‘The news on the TV screen had a surge of static and a loud noise simultaneously thundered throughout the colony.’
      • ‘Her temples were throbbing; she could hear her heartbeats thundering against her eardrums.’
      • ‘As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, ‘What you are stands over you the while and thunders so loud that I cannot hear what you say.’’
      • ‘Then up went the window and out went the bundle as the train thundered through the night.’
      • ‘Sitting track-side we were amazed at the number of passenger and especially freight trains that thundered past.’
      • ‘The pounding of the feet thunders so loud in the boy's ears that he can't even hear the desperate panting of his own lungs.’
      • ‘In this case that's the Midland mainline whose modern bridges sprawl across the canal, blotting out the sky as the occasional train thunders overhead.’
      • ‘‘Look at that; it's a 66,’ he enthuses as a freight train thunders through.’
      • ‘The noise level recorded reached 65 decibels - the equivalent of a train thundering past.’
      • ‘Heart ablaze and head blowing clouds of smoke, the mail train thundered into the platform and ground to a halt.’
      • ‘She accepted the crown and the crowd erupted in a loud thundering applause.’
      • ‘He lifts his horn and they all begin to thunder across the plain sounding their calls.’
      • ‘Our river is well up now, about twice as wide as usual and it is thundering over the weir.’
      echo, re-echo, reverberate, ring out, fill the air, boom, peal, rumble
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2[with object and adverbial of direction]Strike powerfully.
      ‘Briggs thundered home a 30-yard free kick’
      • ‘Rovers striker Jon Stead hit the post and thundered another good opportunity over the bar before Jason Euell ran on to a Di Canio flick-on to jab the ball past Friedel.’
      • ‘Thierry Henry thunders an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net.’
      • ‘Substitute Gary McSwegan thundered a 20-yard drive off the post before arriving seconds later right on cue in the six-yard box turning a low centre past McKenzie.’
      • ‘Skipper Casey thundered a massive 35-yard free kick off the underside of the Omagh crossbar and from the rebound it was like the Alamo with Reilly and Hoey both failing to force the ball across the line.’
      • ‘Russell shot over in the 61st minute but two minutes later Maurice O'Shea thundered a 35-yard piledriver inches wide.’
      • ‘Casey thundered a shot over the bar while Donal Broughan blasted a good free-kick opportunity high and hopelessly wide.’
      • ‘Selby were unlucky not to go further in front when Jason Harris thundered a 20-yard shot against the underside of the crossbar.’
      • ‘But late in the game Mark Calcavecchia thundered a 161-yard eight-iron from rough at the 72nd hole to set up a birdie to tie with Norman and Wayne Grady on 275.’
      • ‘Pool forced a free-kick and Waite thundered a trademark strike in off the bar.’
      • ‘Simon Collins, from ten yards, then thundered the rebound on to the underside of the bar before the ball bounced away.’
      • ‘From the resulting corner Adam Ackroyd headed the ball to the far post and Adam Reed thundered a header from two yards into the top corner only to see his effort headed off the line.’
      • ‘Toure, with the entire goal at his mercy, thunders the ball against the bar.’
      • ‘Ashcroft thundered a free-kick from 20 yards against the underside of the bar.’
      • ‘Connor Campbell thundered a 25-yard shot against the bar and substitute Michael Sanderson lashed the rebound into the net.’
  • 2Speak loudly and forcefully or angrily, especially to denounce or criticize.

    ‘he thundered against the evils of the age’
    [with direct speech] ‘‘Sit down!’ thundered Morse with immense authority’
    • ‘Many Victorian cultural critics thundered that railways dragged deplorable rationalisation and standardisation in their train.’
    • ‘‘George W Bush has failed the test as commander-in-chief,’ he thundered.’
    • ‘The Herald's editorial thundered against the hot-headed motorists who had caused immense danger in Skipton over the Easter holiday.’
    • ‘The male's deep voice thundered in the cavern, and a black pool formed beneath the demons in a large area, and spread outward.’
    • ‘From the columns of The Manchester Guardian Lawrence fulminated against the evils of his time; from the pages of The Skilled Labourer the couple thundered against the evils of the past.’
    • ‘Michaels barked, pounding out crisp sharp words that so thundered with command that even the untrained and deaf would jump to obey.’
    • ‘The emperor's voice thundered angrily through the chamber.’
    • ‘Solzhenitsyn, we can reasonably assent to Nabokov's formulation, thundered against vicious cruelty.’
    • ‘‘This is rubbish,’ the Guardian thunders, ‘as Lord Falconer must know perfectly well.’’
    • ‘Local columnists thundered against the failures of central government in Madrid.’
    • ‘You murdered an innocent man, the Judges thundered, each word a condemnation.’
    • ‘No longer could he escape those hands curled up in anger, a loud voice thundering over comforting whispers - his own.’
    • ‘The Times thundered against the Scottish aristo and JP who sided with the rowdies.’
    • ‘An editorial in the Australian thundered against plans for ‘big government’.’
    • ‘I thundered, my voice sounding angrier than I had meant it to.’
    • ‘It was from this cathedral that John Knox thundered against the ‘monstrous regiment of women’ in the shape of the beauteous Mary Queen of Scots.’
    • ‘From platforms across Europe orators thundered against Montjuic.’
    • ‘Pope Innocent thundered angrily in letters, specifically forbidding the Crusaders from attacking Zara.’
    • ‘‘You're not going any where,’ she thundered as loudly as a shrivelled up old woman in a wheelchair could, making me stop dead in my tracks.’
    • ‘I'm innocently baffled by the apparent absence of furious debate and thundering editorials on the subject of spycams at 400-yard intervals all over England.’
    protest strongly at, make a protest against, fulminate against, inveigh against, rail against, rage against, declaim against, remonstrate about, expostulate about, make a fuss about, speak out against, express disapproval of
    roar, bellow, bark, yell, shout, bawl, howl, cry, clamour, bay, scream, screech
    View synonyms


Old English thunor (noun), thunrian (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch donder and German Donner (noun), from an Indo-European root shared by Latin tonare to thunder.