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.

    • ‘Coastal Plain longleaf pine forests are proximal to coastal storms, and thus have high probabilities of experiencing hurricanes, tornadoes, and other wind disturbances.’
    • ‘Through the solid walls the undefined shapes entered, swirling around like the wind and almost having the appearance of a tornado.’
    • ‘Treat all funnel clouds and tornadoes seriously and avoid when possible.’
    • ‘The threat equations model the destructive force of various-strength tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes - and bombs.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A tornado is a funnel-shaped cloud that descends on land, creating havoc and destruction in its wake.’
    • ‘These clouds often bring thunder and lightning, and can also bring funnel clouds or even tornadoes.’
    • ‘Floods, especially flash floods, kill more people each year than hurricanes, tornadoes, wind storms or lightning.’
    • ‘All of us along the Gulf Coast have had our hurricanes, we've had our tornadoes, wind storms, floods, you name it.’
    • ‘Sudden and dramatic drops in barometric pressure are what produce the extremely high winds in tornadoes and hurricanes.’
    • ‘The cheapest forms of housing have proven most vulnerable to the high winds of tornadoes and hurricanes.’
    • ‘The thunderstorms that spin out tornadoes are big clouds with lots of water and ice in them to block sunlight.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The wind got stronger as clouds gathered and a tornado began to form.’
    • ‘The tornado, the overhead storm clouds and the city beneath all stood out in eerie green detail.’
    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’
      • ‘Jeanna's eye seemed to contain the savage winds of a tornado.’
      • ‘It felt like a tornado of a thousand emotions was tearing away at my insides.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The kaleidoscopic tornado of feelings clouded his mind.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He played the role of the tornado and wind of the Elders.’
      • ‘You came and left like a tornado of emotions… and you forever marked my heart.’
      • ‘I wasn't about to enter into an explanation of the tornado of confusion that was engulfing my life right now.’
      • ‘You're at your coolest and most collected when you're the eye of a tornado, surrounded by a frenzy of activity.’
      • ‘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?’


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’.