From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Typhoon


English Wikipedia has an article on:
Typhoon Hagupit (2014)
A typhoon


English texts mention typhon, tiphon as a Greek word for "whirlwind" since at least the 1550s,[1][2] referring to Ancient Greek τυφῶν (tuphôn),[1] τυφώς (tuphṓs, whirlwind) (the latter attested since Aeschylus),[3] Τυφῶν (Tuphôn, Typhon, father of the winds). (French typhon (whirlwind) is said to be attested since 1504.[4])

However, the first use of it as an English word for a whirlwind or storm dates to 1588, in the spelling Touffon, in the specific sense "giant storm in the Pacific"; this sense first appears in Europe in the mid 16th century in Portuguese tufão (attested since at least 1560), whence it entered English.[1][5] Portuguese sailors likely got the word from Arabic طُوفَان(ṭūfān) (compare Persian طوفان(tufân), Hindi तूफ़ान (tūfān)),[1][6][7] and some spellings of the English word (like tufan) seem to derive from that Arabic word.

The Arabic word's origin is sometimes thought to be Sinitic 大風大风 ("big wind", Mandarin dàfēng, Cantonese daai6 fung1 /taːi̯²² fʊŋ⁵⁵/, Hakka thai-fûng /tʰai̯⁵⁵ fuŋ²⁴/),[8] and some English forms like tyfoong, tyfung are from or were modified based on Chinese. However, the Arabic word may be entirely Semitic[1] from the native root ط و ف(ṭ-w-f) in the sense of the wind circling around,[9] or it might derive from Greek.[8][9] (Some sources even suggest the term originated in Greek and travelled via Arabic to Chinese before making its way back into Arabic and back to Europe.[10]) Over time, the spelling of the word in English was influenced by the Greek word.[1][11]



typhoon (plural typhoons)

  1. A weather phenomenon in the northwestern Pacific that is precisely equivalent to a hurricane, which results in wind speeds of 64 knots (118 km/h) or above. Equivalent to a cyclone in the Indian Ocean and Indonesia/Australia.

Alternative forms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]




typhoon (third-person singular simple present typhoons, present participle typhooning, simple past and past participle typhooned)

  1. (intransitive) To swirl like a hurricane.

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “typhoon”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. ^ Richard Eden, Decades of the New World (1555), translating De orbe novo decades by Peter Martyr, published in 1895 by Edward Arber in The First Three English Books on America, page 81: "These tempestes of the ayer (which the Grecians caule Tiphones, that is, whyrle wyndes) they caule, Furacanes[sic]: which they say, doo often tymes chaunce in this Ilande: [] "
  3. ^ Liddell and Scott
  4. ^ typhon”, in Trésor de la langue française informatisé [Digitized Treasury of the French Language], 2012. (for 1504 they cite J. Lemaire de Belges, Couronne margaritique ds Œuvres, éd. J. Stecher, p. 85: "ceux qui la portent [cette pierre précieuse, le corail], sont preservez de plusieurs perilz en mer et en terre: et mesmement dun vent fulmineux et subtil, nommé Typhon, qui esrache les arbres"; the spellings typhon, tiffon, tifon persist for the rest of the 1500s before tuffon appears in 1619 and tufan, tufaon in 1628)
  5. ^ Thomas Hickock's translation of The voyage and trauell of M. Caesar Fredericke, Marchant of Venice, into the East India, and beyond the Indies: "concerning which Touffon ye are to vnderstand, that in the East Indies often times, there are not stormes as in other countreys; but euery 10. or 12. yeeres there are such tempests and stormes, that it is a thing incredible, but to those that haue seene it."
  6. ^ Andrew Delahunty, From Bonbon to Cha-cha: Oxford Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases
  7. ^ Tai Whan Kim, The Portuguese Element in Japanese: A Critical Survey (1976): "several points suggest that the Portuguese word came from the Arabic, not from Chinese tai-fung"
  8. 8.0 8.1 typhoon”, in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–present.
  9. 9.0 9.1 A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles
  10. ^ The Arabic Contributions to the English Language: An Historical Dictionary by Garland Hampton Cannon and Alan S. Kaye considers typhoon "a special case, transmitted by Cantonese, from Arabic, but ultimately deriving from Greek. [...] The Chinese applied the [Greek] concept to a rather different wind [...]"
  11. ^ Corriente, Federico (2008), “typhoon”, in Dictionary of Arabic and Allied Loanwords. Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Galician and Kindred Dialects (Handbook of Oriental Studies; 97), Leiden: Brill, →ISBN, page 457a: “tifò (Ct.), tifón (Cs.) and tufão (Pt.): was prob. first acquired by Pt. during the initial explorations of the Indian Ocean, < Ar. ṭūfān "flood; hurricane", and phonetically contaminated by Gr. typhṓn, name of the mythical monster causing volcano eruptions and hurricanes.”