Human History: Interpretations

Word Origins

Japanese writing The term "Tsunami" comes from the Japanese word for harbor (tsu) and wave (nami). The origins of the word are not surprising given that the majority of tsunamis occur within the Pacific Ocean and vicinity of Japan.

The term is said to have Originated with Fishermen when, upon returning to port, found the area surrounding the harbour devastated, even though they had not been aware of anything out of the ordinary while fishing in the open ocean.

The terms "tidal wave" or "seismic wave" are not accurate as tsunamis may be produced by non-seismic events and are unlike the waves produced by astronomical tides.
Although the Japanese term has been widely adopted, other terms are sometimes used in a variety of languages.

In Russian, it is ЦУНАМИ but is also  pronounced much like "tsunami" or soo-nah-mee or tsoo-nah-mee.

The French word for tsunami is raz-de-marée which, when translated, means a "violent rising of the tide".

The German and Swedish terms for the phenomenon are a translation of "flood-wave", Flutvelle in German and flodvag in Swedish.


Last Revised April 1, 2005
Created by L. Johnston, C. Klemenchuk, F. Krauss for MDE 615.
This site is best viewed using IE 6.x or Netscape 6.x at a resolution of 1024*768 pixels.
Please send comments or enquiries to the webmaster.