Share this entry

El Niño Syllabification: El Ni·ño
Pronunciation: /el ˈnēnyō/

Definition of El Niño in English:

noun (plural El Niños)

An irregularly occurring and complex series of climatic changes affecting the equatorial Pacific region and beyond every few years, characterized by the appearance of unusually warm, nutrient-poor water off northern Peru and Ecuador, typically in late December.
Example sentences
  • The El Niño drought over eastern Australia in 1982 led to tinder dry conditions throughout the grasslands and forests of southeastern Australia.
  • The measurement of Sea-Surface Temperature anomalies helps to determine whether climate patterns like El Niño are developing.
  • You can think of the upper air winds as being like a white-water river and the effects of an El Niño as being somewhat like moving some of the rocks in a white-water stream.


Late 19th century: Spanish, literally 'the (Christ) child', because of the occurrence near Christmas.

Words that rhyme with El Niño

caudillo • yo-yo

Definition of El Niño in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day innocuous
Pronunciation: ɪˈnɒkjʊəs
not harmful or offensive