During the reports of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, the constant explanation was that “tsunami” is a Japanese word. It made me to wonder what was the corresponding word in Japanese. I had to look it up. I also separated the readings. I wasn’t sure which sound corresponded to which kanji. The word in Korean is interesting as it specifies that it is due to an earthquake.
Chinese: 海嘯 (hai xiao)
Japanese: 津波 (つなみ) (tsu nami); 津 (つ) 波 (なみ)
Korean: 지진해일 (地震海溢) (ji jin hae il)
Update: NPR has a piece titled “History Of Tsunami: The Word And The Wave” that has more information about the origins of the word.