Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective tu·mul·tu·ous \tu̇-ˈməl-chə-wəs, tyu̇-, tə-, -chəs; -ˈməlch-wəs\

Simple Definition of tumultuous

  • : loud, excited, and emotional

  • : involving a lot of violence, confusion, or disorder

Full Definition of tumultuous

  1. 1 :  marked by tumult :  loud, excited, and emotional <tumultuous applause>

  2. 2 :  tending or disposed to cause or incite a tumult <the laws … were violated by a tumultuous faction — Edward Gibbon>

  3. 3 :  marked by violent or overwhelming turbulence or upheaval <tumultuous passions>

tu·mul·tu·ous·ly adverb
tu·mul·tu·ous·ness noun

Examples of tumultuous

  1. For someone with such a tumultuous inner world, the muscular choice-is-all school of moral philosophy could not be satisfactory. —Martha C. Nussbaum, New Republic, 31 Dec. 2001

  2. The teams walked onto the field to tumultuous applause. —J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 1999

  3. We were not accustomed to loran, and to pick up a buoy, as I now did with my binoculars, after thirty days of tumultuous seas, at precisely the time and angle that our charted position led us to anticipate, struck me as nothing short of miraculous. —Louis Auchincloss, “Atlantic War,” in Authors at Sea, Robert Shenk, ed., 1997

  4. The tumultuous sensual undercurrent of the Orient had, like water in the desert, gone underground and though perhaps it bubbled up behind courtyard walls, in public places it kept out of sight. —Leila Hadley, Give Me the World, (1958) 1999

  5. The returning astronauts were given a tumultuous welcome.

  6. The room filled with tumultuous applause.

Origin of tumultuous

(see tumult)

First Known Use: circa 1548

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up tumultuous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 6, 2016

an official order, decree, or edict

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

duvet spindrift pince-nez kittly-benders
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.