A friend of mine IMed me this weekend, very excited about a minor earthquake. She used the word “temblor” and was very excited about that, too – how often do you get a chance to say “temblor”? She felt impressive and sciencey.
I have been hanging around with seismologists for some time now, and I don’t think I have ever heard anyone use the word “temblor” in either ordinary or technical speech. I have only ever seen it in news reports, where it seems to fulfill a need to (a) limit the number of times a single word is repeated in a short space, and/or (b) use short words in headlines to satisfy layout constraints.
Am I alone here?