Definition of tornado in US English:



  • 1A mobile, destructive vortex of violently rotating winds having the appearance of a funnel-shaped cloud and advancing beneath a large storm system.

    • ‘The tornado, a violently rotating column of air, extends from a thunderstorm to the ground.’
    • ‘Red electricity crackled through the tornado, and the wind began to slow.’
    • ‘The thunderstorms that spin out tornadoes are big clouds with lots of water and ice in them to block sunlight.’
    • ‘The storm spun off tornadoes as it churned northwest at 119 kph with winds that topped 193 kph, causing transformers to explode in the pre-dawn darkness.’
    • ‘These clouds often bring thunder and lightning, and can also bring funnel clouds or even tornadoes.’
    • ‘Treat all funnel clouds and tornadoes seriously and avoid when possible.’
    • ‘Sudden and dramatic drops in barometric pressure are what produce the extremely high winds in tornadoes and hurricanes.’
    • ‘They found that instead of polarization, the new phase creates what the researchers call a toroid moment, which rotates in a circular fashion like a vortex or a tornado.’
    • ‘A hot day followed by an angry storm; sirens, menacing winds, boiling clouds, tornados, wall clouds, the whole magilla.’
    • ‘The tornado, the overhead storm clouds and the city beneath all stood out in eerie green detail.’
    • ‘Through the solid walls the undefined shapes entered, swirling around like the wind and almost having the appearance of a tornado.’
    • ‘The threat equations model the destructive force of various-strength tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes - and bombs.’
    • ‘A tornado is a funnel-shaped cloud that descends on land, creating havoc and destruction in its wake.’
    • ‘Coastal Plain longleaf pine forests are proximal to coastal storms, and thus have high probabilities of experiencing hurricanes, tornadoes, and other wind disturbances.’
    • ‘Floods, especially flash floods, kill more people each year than hurricanes, tornadoes, wind storms or lightning.’
    • ‘The wind got stronger as clouds gathered and a tornado began to form.’
    • ‘As we taxied along I watched the vortices, like little tornadoes, sucking water off the ground beneath the engines and knew that, because of me, there was one less piece of FO on that airfield.’
    • ‘The funnel cloud associated with most tornadoes results from moisture condensing out of humid air as the vortex accelerates and the air pressure inside drops.’
    • ‘All of us along the Gulf Coast have had our hurricanes, we've had our tornadoes, wind storms, floods, you name it.’
    • ‘The cheapest forms of housing have proven most vulnerable to the high winds of tornadoes and hurricanes.’
    whirlwind, windstorm, cyclone, typhoon, tropical cyclone, tropical storm, tempest, dust devil, storm, superstorm, hurricane, gale, squall
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A person or thing characterized by violent or devastating action or emotion.
      ‘a tornado of sexual confusion’
      • ‘It finally took a hard smack with Godzilla's tail to rouse him out of his glum state and knock us all over with a wind tornado of anger.’
      • ‘I smile weakly at him but behind the cool countenance there is a rumbling tornado of anger, fear, denial, regret, devastation and a certain element of guilt.’
      • ‘He played the role of the tornado and wind of the Elders.’
      • ‘Jeanna's eye seemed to contain the savage winds of a tornado.’
      • ‘The kaleidoscopic tornado of feelings clouded his mind.’
      • ‘I wasn't about to enter into an explanation of the tornado of confusion that was engulfing my life right now.’
      • ‘So what's next for Al, a role where he's just a deafening Tasmanian Devil-like tornado, spewing hoo-ha's and drops of midnight hair tonic?’
      • ‘You're at your coolest and most collected when you're the eye of a tornado, surrounded by a frenzy of activity.’
      • ‘You came and left like a tornado of emotions… and you forever marked my heart.’
      • ‘Despite the absence of Decira, the pace did not slow down a bit, and the world continued to spin, catching all who remained in its tornado of confusion.’
      • ‘It felt like a tornado of a thousand emotions was tearing away at my insides.’


Mid 16th century (denoting a violent thunderstorm of the tropical Atlantic Ocean): perhaps an alteration of Spanish tronada ‘thunderstorm’ (from tronar ‘to thunder’) by association with Spanish tornar ‘to turn’.