con·​vo·​lu·​tion | \ˌkän-və-ˈlü-shən \

Definition of convolution 

1 : a form or shape that is folded in curved or tortuous windings the convolutions of the intestines

2 : one of the irregular ridges on the surface of the brain and especially of the cerebrum of higher mammals

3 : a complication or intricacy of form, design, or structure … societies in which the convolutions of power and the caprices of the powerful are ever-present dangers to survival.— Mary Lee Settle

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Examples of convolution in a Sentence

I found it hard to follow the convolutions of the book's plot. a plot full of convolution and confusion

Recent Examples on the Web

It’s hard to keep up with the convolutions of the Brexit debate in Britain. Stephen Fidler, WSJ, "The Tortuous Road to a Brexit Customs Deal," 12 May 2018 There are many more convolutions to the predicted end of the world, which the Express outlines in confusing and befuddling detail. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "No, the world isn't ending later this month. We hope.," 13 Apr. 2018 When the association finally triumphed last month — with the caps’ permanent dissolution — a saga marked by legislative twists and convolutions, procrastination and budgeting witchcraft finally came to an end. Washington Post, "Tucked into the budget deal, long-awaited gifts to some health-care providers," 6 Mar. 2018 There is more talk about the world and its convolutions than ever before. Michael Wolff, Town & Country, "Superiority Complex," 20 May 2013 During the same time slot, in the same New School building, the trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson put his agile band Sicilian Defense through its paces, turning a tricky set of formal convolutions into something sharp and gleaming. Nate Chinen, New York Times, "Preview NYC Winter Jazzfest in 7 Tracks JAN. 4, 2017," 8 Jan. 2017 Part David Duchovny, part Luke Wilson, his portrayal of a scruffy loser with a quick wit and a Jesus streak drives the film through its profane convolutions. Hugh Hart, WIRED, "Movies: In Theaters This Week (Oct. 31)," 29 Oct. 2008 The convolution of melamine foam wedges is configured to absorb sounds that originate within the room — like notes from Taylor’s flute — and prevent them from reverberating or echoing. Sandi Doughton, The Seattle Times, "A room where sound goes to die — and scientists go to study," 3 July 2017 Hamparian categorized denial in the United States and Turkey as a sophisticated convolution of facts, strengthened by economic ties. Sara Cardine, La Cañada Valley Sun, "Armenian National Committee chair visits FSHA, sheds light on genocide," 26 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'convolution.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of convolution

1545, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for convolution

see convolute

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Time Traveler for convolution

The first known use of convolution was in 1545

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More Definitions for convolution



English Language Learners Definition of convolution

: something that is very complicated and difficult to understand

: a twist or curve


con·​vo·​lu·​tion | \ˌkän-və-ˈlü-shən \

Medical Definition of convolution 

: any of the irregular ridges on the surface of the brain and especially of the cerebrum

called also gyrus

— compare sulcus

Other Words from convolution

convolutional \ -​shnəl, -​shən-​ᵊl \ adjective

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Comments on convolution

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


by force of circumstances

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