This word has bothered me for years.   It seems like every reporter writing up an earthquake feels compelled to use it, even though no one else in the world (for the most part) ever does.   I always chalked it up to news editors and their seemingly insanely over-the-top desire for "snappy" writing.   Finally, someone has run the numbers:
"A quick search on Mark Davies’ Corpus of Contemporary American English shows that temblor occurs just over twice as often in newspaper writing as in magazine writing, and more than three times as frequently in newspaper writing as in fiction."

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