Definition of earthquake in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈərTHˌkwāk/


1A sudden and violent shaking of the ground, sometimes causing great destruction, as a result of movements within the earth’s crust or volcanic action.
Example sentences
  • When it came to measuring these big earthquakes, the Richter scale fell short.
  • Nine on the Richter scale indicates an earthquake of absolutely awesome destructive power.
  • This is one of the most destructive earthquakes of the twentieth century.
earth tremor, tremor, shock, foreshock, aftershock, convulsion, seismic activity
informal quake
1.1A great upheaval: a political earthquake
More example sentences
  • As a political earthquake, the end of the Empire measured right at the top of the Richter scale.
  • Zambians rejected all those political earthquakes by the scruff of the neck.
  • They would need to be at least six points ahead of the rest to do that, and that would take a political earthquake.

Major earthquakes are confined to particular active regions of the earth’s crust corresponding to the edges of the crustal plates, and most earthquakes are due to the release of strain energy associated with the relative motions of the plates. The intensity of earthquakes is expressed by the Richter scale, destructive earthquakes generally measuring between about 7 and 9.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: earth·quake

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.