re·​bel·​lion | \ri-ˈbel-yən \

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

One of the courts backed Duterte’s bid last month and issued the arrest warrant for a bailable rebellion charge. Jim Gomez, The Seattle Times, "Philippine court rejects Duterte bid to have critic arrested," 22 Oct. 2018 The endorsements have sparked rebellion in the state, and not just from the left. NBC News, "Rhode Island Dems in uproar as party seeks to oust three progressive women," 3 July 2018 This is basically a rebellion from within May’s own party. Jen Kirby, Vox, "The latest Brexit drama, explained," 15 Nov. 2018 Martin also described rebellions by the French Second Company and the Royal Scots Regiment. WSJ, "Archangel Endnotes," 9 Nov. 2018 That zeal for justice will continue to permeate her artistic work; her videos in particular create worlds of both oppression and rebellion. Sean Knight, Glamour, "Janelle Monáe Knows She Has Your Attention. Get Ready for What's Next.," 5 Nov. 2018 Initially in the early 1990s when the anti-India rebellion peaked, Kashmir police were hesitant to be drawn into the counterinsurgency following attacks on them and their family members. Aijaz Hussain, Fox News, "Anti-India rebels abduct and kill 3 policemen in Kashmir," 21 Sep. 2018 The Queen of Crows is the second installment in the trilogy, and in it, Heloise has acquired a mechanical suit of armor, and now faces overwhelming odds to protect her village and to lead a growing rebellion. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Here’s 7 new sci-fi and fantasy novels coming out this September to check out," 15 Sep. 2018 Scott, first elected in 2016, was facing a rebellion from his base due to his support for a series of gun restrictions that, while mild by national standards, angered many members of Vermont’s avid hunting community. Wilson Ring, The Seattle Times, "Vermont’s GOP Gov. Scott to face 1st transgender nominee," 14 Aug. 2018

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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Statistics for rebellion

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for rebellion

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

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More Definitions for rebellion



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 \

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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Comments on rebellion

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a nest or breeding place

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