What Does It Mean to Dream of Tsunami and Tidal Wave?

Dreaming of Tsunami - Symbolism and Meaning

Sea is one of the core, mother dream images. All life came from the sea, and millions of human lives still depend on it today. That is why it is deeply embedded in our subconsciousness.

So if you dream about a restless, threatening sea, it signals a disturbance in your very center. In dreams, the disturbance is often pictured as a flood, large tidal wave, or a tsunami.

Although tsunamis occur in specific parts of the world, the fact that they are destructive events of great significance has made them a big media presence. That is why the image of a tsunami has become a global phenomenon – and you can dream of it even if you’ve never been close to a real one.

Likewise, dreaming of a tidal wave or a flood coming from the sea can be equally distressing for a dreamer.

In this article, let’s discover the tsunami dream meaning, which can be used for a tidal wave dream as well.

Tsunami and tidal wave – what is the difference?

USGS elegantly explains the difference between a tidal wave and a tsunami:

Although both are sea waves, a tsunami and a tidal wave are two different and unrelated phenomena.

A tidal wave is a shallow water wave caused by the gravitational interactions between the Sun, Moon, and Earth (“tidal wave” was used in earlier times to describe what we now call a tsunami.)

A tsunami is an ocean wave triggered by large earthquakes that occur near or under the ocean, volcanic eruptions, submarine landslides, or by onshore landslides in which large volumes of debris fall into the water.

As you can see, in the old days, people weren’t skilled in differentiating between a tidal wave and a tsunami. A tsunami was just a huge tidal wave, imposing enough to get its own name.

Our dreams also lack this scientific classification ability and tend to simplify things, reducing the object and events into more simple images – symbols. That is why in dream interpretation, we can treat tsunamis and tidal waves as synonyms, the images that convey the same message.

Let’s explore what dreams about tsunamis, tidal waves, and the related floods really mean.

Tsunami (Tidal Wave) Dream Meaning and Interpretation

As usual, to be as objective as possible, we should look into what different resources have to say about the same dream image.

In Dream Dictionary From A to Z, Theresa Cheung has a short passage on dream tidal waves. She acknowledges that the image is frightening – I would add that it can definitely fall into the nightmare category. Theresa suggests that a tidal wave in your dream can signal that you feel that your personal issues “have raged out of control” and that “your place in the world is uncertain and shifting.

According to Eve Adamson, tidal wave dreams reflect and symbolize anxiety and other strong and often unpleasant emotions related to significant life changes. She also suggests that a tidal wave can be a representation of powerful feelings you have been suppressing in your waking life. “Your dream is telling you that if you keep sucking them in, they will inevitably come at you like a giant wall of water,” she writes.

Your position against the tsunami-caused flood is an important clue. If you are in the middle of the flood, you feel like your emotions and inner energies overwhelm you. On the other hand, if you are a mere spectator of the flood, it means that “you are watching yourself”, sort of detached. You may not be good at expressing yourself; however, this dream motif can help you realize and resolve your anxieties and insecurities.

Of course, if this tense dream turns into a nightmare, you may find your dream self drowning. The point is the same as in the case of being in the middle of the flood, just of a greater magnitude. You are overwhelmed with your feelings to the point of not being able to handle them anymore. You may also be afraid to express yourself freely, with no constraints, which adds to your inner pressure.

Dreaming of a tidal wave coming at me

Dreaming of a tidal wave coming at me

Also, you may dream not of the tsunami or tidal wave itself, but the prelude to it – like water being sucked off the beach, with a feeling of impending doom. According to Eve, if you are at that point worried about others more than about yourself, it means that in reality, you are feeling worried about somebody you feel responsible for. It is possible that that person is facing a big challenge in life, and you are worried about how they will handle it.

Similarly, you may be facing a tsunami standing on a dark, stormy beach. The menacing atmosphere can signal that you are stressed out by a recent or an imminent change in your life and are still not fully comfortable about it. Again, if you are feeling worried about others, it can be a clue that you are antsy about how that change affects your nearest and dearest more than yourself.

If a giant wave is coming straight at you in your dream and you have nowhere to run or hide, it means that there is a big change coming in your life, and you feel very anxious about it, or that you can’t handle the emotional burden of it all. The size of the wave and the intensity of your dread reflects the amount of anxiety you are feeling, so give yourself a break in your waking life and try finding some wholesome relief.

Another scenario is that you dream that the wave is coming, and you start running. If it begins in the water and the wave ends up looking much smaller and less menacing from the safety of the shore, it can mean that you are ready to bear the change and that it doesn’t upset you anymore.

Dreaming of tsunami flood destroying your belongings

Dreaming of tsunami flood destroying your belongings

Objects appearing and getting destroyed in your dream can be an essential clue for interpretation.

A dream where your house gets flooded by a tidal wave can indicate a personal crisis. You feel like this crisis has been caused by outside factors which you have no control over.

Suppose you dreamed that the wave has caused flooding of your house, building or the streets of your town, but you are unharmed and are feeling fine. In that case, it indicates that you are experiencing changes in your life but accepting them and making the best of the situation, despite the changes being emotionally difficult or draining. Note the similarity with the example from the passage above. As you see, the way you feel during your dream makes all the difference in telling the meaning.

On the other hand, if your house gets flooded and you feel very frustrated and desperate, it can signal that you are emotionally overwhelmed by your home and family affairs and issues. That is especially true if you are afraid of drowning in your dream. Metaphorically speaking, all your responsibilities, tasks, and chores may be “drowning you” in reality. Also, your family might be overly reliant on you for their emotional wellbeing, and you just can’t cope.

If the focus in your dream is the destruction of your material possessions, it may stand for your emotional attachment to the material world and all the stuff you own. Your unconscious mind may be trying to tell you that you need to free yourself and let go; otherwise, you may drown.

Also, you may dream that the tsunami has flooded your town and the streets of your neighborhood. Since you don’t own any of these yourself, they represent your wider surroundings, a backdrop to your life. If they get flooded and destroyed in your area, you may feel like you don’t have control of your life. You may wish just to start over again. Oftentimes, you will experience this exact feeling of wishing things to be back the way they once were towards the end of your dream.

Although these dreams represent hardship, they also have a drop of hope within them. According to Cheung, flood dreams, although frightening, don’t have to be a bad omen or a negative image at all. Dream flood can represent a release of pent-up energy or frustration – and you will need to set this energy free to make progress.

Is dreaming about a tsunami prophetic?

Is dreaming about a tsunami prophetic?

It is true that dreams of disaster, including tsunamis, can sometimes be prophetic. According to Adamson – and you must have heard about this phenomenon yourself – many people say that they dreamed about the disaster before it happened to them. Sometimes it is literal – e.g., people dream of a tsunami or a flood, and then it actually happens, but more often, these dreams are metaphorical and stand for some other kind of personal disaster.

To some, these dreams were a warning and have helped the dreamers change some things in their lives and avoid real-life trouble.

However, I can’t stress enough that prophetic dreams are extremely rare. Disaster dreams are often a metaphorical reflection of your personal or broader societal situation, as we will see in the following example.

So, how do you differentiate a dream that may hold a prophetic element from a common one? Again, follow your feelings. If the disaster in your dream fills you with an extreme sense of dread, and you have several similar dreams over a short period of time followed by the same feeling, try to calmly try to consider the risk factors in your life and change what’s practical.

Tsunami dreams and the pandemic

In the face of COVID-19-related uncertainty, the rate of unsettling dreams and nightmares has skyrocketed. The reasons for these nightmares may be the fear of the disease itself but also of other pandemic-related circumstances – fear for finances, job security, or the unease that comes with lockdowns and social distancing.

These stressors often express themselves in our dreams metaphorically. Dreaming of natural disasters often represents the outer circumstances that we lack control over. Although COVID-19 has nothing to do with the oceans (except the notion that the virus has come from “across the sea” if you live in the Americas), tsunami, tsunami wave, tidal wave, and flooding dreams fit this pattern perfectly.

Other common pandemic-related dreaming themes include aliens, zombies, and creepy crawlers such as insects or spiders.

Tsunami and disaster dreams relation to trauma

Tsunami and disaster dreams relation to trauma

Another way to understand why these catastrophic metaphoric images occur is that they are the expression of the dreamer’s core concerns. These worries are in close connection with real memories that have similar emotions attached to them but different subject matters and contexts.

That means that someone who suffered through a traumatic experience such as war could dream of a natural disaster instead of the armed conflict but relieve certain emotions from the real-life experience.

These dreams do not happen to re-traumatize the dreamer. On the contrary, Ernest Hartmann, a pioneer dream and nightmare researcher, suggested that people have these dreams which weave together old and new experiences in order to make the psyche more resilient. This kind of integration, he stipulated, produces a more stable, deeper memory system, resilient to possible future traumas.

To put this into the perspective of tsunami and tidal wave dreams – the nightmarish experiences might train you to adapt and respond to unforeseen disasters out of your control and avoid being paralyzingly traumatized by experiencing these emotions beforehand in your dreams.


Tsunamis and tidal waves in dreams stand as a symbol of uncertainty, change, and the dreamer’s own big feelings – whether it’s anxiety or simply being overwhelmed with emotions. Although they can make you antsy, tsunami dreams don’t have to be negative – but can signal a positive change or cleansing.

Another perk is that, according to dream researchers, disaster dreams can make your mind more resilient in the face of future real-life challenges.

Finally, although there are indications that tsunami and tidal wave dreams can be prophetic, this is extremely rare. Don’t worry too much about it in your waking life – try to get the message and ride the wave.

Have you had interesting tsunami-themed dreams? Do you think any of your tidal wave dreams have been prophetic? Let us know in the comments!