From Middle English erthequake, erd-quake, corresponding to earth + quake. Compare similar formations in eorþbeofung (“earthquake”, literally “earth-shaking”), eorþdyne (“earthquake”, literally “earth-din”), eorþstyrung (“earthquake”, literally “earth-stirring”), eorþhrērness (“earthquake”, literally “earth-stirring”).
earthquake (plural earthquakes)
- A shaking of the ground, caused by volcanic activity or movement around geologic faults. [from 14th c.]
- (planetary geology) Such a quake specifically occurring on the planet Earth, as opposed to other celestial bodies. [from 20th c.]