re·​bel·​lion | \ ri-ˈbel-yən How to pronounce rebellion (audio) \

Definition of rebellion

1 : opposition to one in authority or dominance
2a : open, armed, and usually unsuccessful defiance of or resistance to an established government
b : an instance of such defiance or resistance

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Choose the Right Synonym for rebellion

rebellion, revolution, uprising, revolt, insurrection, mutiny mean an outbreak against authority. rebellion implies an open formidable resistance that is often unsuccessful. open rebellion against the officers revolution applies to a successful rebellion resulting in a major change (as in government). a political revolution that toppled the monarchy uprising implies a brief, limited, and often immediately ineffective rebellion. quickly put down the uprising revolt and insurrection imply an armed uprising that quickly fails or succeeds. a revolt by the Young Turks that surprised party leaders an insurrection of oppressed laborers mutiny applies to group insubordination or insurrection especially against naval authority. a mutiny led by the ship's cook

Did You Know?

Plenty of teenagers rebel against their parents in all kinds of ways. But a rebellion usually involves a group. Armed rebellions are usually put down by a country's armed forces, or at least kept from expanding beyond a small area. The American War of Independence was first viewed by the British as a minor rebellion that would soon run its course, but this particular rebellion led to a full-fledged revolution--that is, the overthrow of a government. Rebellion, armed or otherwise, has often alerted those in power that those they control are very unhappy.

Examples of rebellion in a Sentence

The king's army suppressed the rebellion. The unfair tax laws sparked a rebellion. The peasants rose in rebellion. She's the head of a rebellion against the leaders of the party. Recent election losses have led to open rebellion among some party members, who are calling for a complete change of leadership.
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Recent Examples on the Web Despite his doubts about the wisdom of rebellion, Yosef, then a talented leader aged twenty-nine, accepted command of Galilee, the region most directly in the path of Roman retribution. James Romm, The New York Review of Books, "What Happened at Masada?," 5 Jan. 2021 Right away, Jones borrows from celebrated scholar Robin D.G. Kelley, who writes about race and resistance, by recreating small acts of slave rebellion. Darryl Robertson, USA TODAY, "Review: Robert Jones Jr. sheds light on lives of enslaved gay men in ‘The Prophets’," 5 Jan. 2021 With the French public at the breaking point after more than four years under Nazi rule, the resistance in open rebellion and American troops on the way, Hitler commanded that the city be razed, and explosives were being set at famed monuments. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, "Most heavenly holiday music: Messiaen and Christmas in 20 virtuosic piano visions," 23 Dec. 2020 Once seen as symbols of purity, pearls took on connotations of feminine rebellion thanks to Jazz-Age nonconformists like Josephine Baker, seen here in 1926. Katharine K. Zarrella, WSJ, "From Jackie O to Rihanna, the Ultimate Guide to Classic Style," 21 Dec. 2020 Not everyone in the state's hospitality industry, however, is advocating rebellion. James Walsh, Star Tribune, "Minnesota businesses plan to defy Walz shutdown order," 14 Dec. 2020 Those conditions tend historically to inspire rebellion, and space is no exception. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "The Expanse S5 review: The show is bigger, bolder, and better than ever," 11 Dec. 2020 But for all the similarities, there are some key differences that have made social rebellion and the spread of misinformation even more challenging in 2020. NBC News, "How to talk to your friends and family about Covid, vaccines and wearing masks," 11 Dec. 2020 After years of rebellion over everything from control of the courts to gay rights and media freedom, rowing back won’t be easy. Zoltan Simon,, "EU’s Eastern Rebels Play a $220 Billion Game of Chicken," 9 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rebellion.' 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 rebellion

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for rebellion

Time Traveler

The first known use of rebellion was in the 14th century

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Statistics for rebellion

Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rebellion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for rebellion


How to pronounce rebellion (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of rebellion

: an effort by many people to change the government or leader of a country by the use of protest or violence
: open opposition toward a person or group in authority
: refusal to obey rules or accept normal standards of behavior, dress, etc.


re·​bel·​lion | \ ri-ˈbel-yən How to pronounce rebellion (audio) \

Kids Definition of rebellion

1 : open opposition to authority The strict rules caused rebellion in their class.
2 : an open fight by citizens against their government

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