re·​bel·​lion ri-ˈbel-yən How to pronounce rebellion (audio)
: opposition to one in authority or dominance
: open, armed, and usually unsuccessful defiance of or resistance to an established government
: an instance of such defiance or resistance

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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.

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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Many authors, like Riordan, Roth, and Levithan, use young characters as a way to appeal to universal themes people at any age can relate to, like longing, rebellion, and anxiety. Ct Jones, Rolling Stone, 25 Nov. 2023 Artists moved between the two galleries; this was more about community than capital, and community bonds were strengthened by the era’s many upheavals: the Watts rebellion, the radicalism of the Black Panther Party. Hilton Als, The New Yorker, 20 Nov. 2023 Reminders of Earth’s rebellion — this omen — are everywhere in L.A. Fariha Róisín, Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2023 Lowe's connection to the pivotal rebellion is personal, as a descendant of one of its participants. Virginia Chamlee, Peoplemag, 9 Nov. 2023 At the time, there was a concerted and largely successful counterrevolutionary effort, led principally by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to defeat and ultimately destroy the leadership of those associated with the regional rebellions. Lisa Anderson, Foreign Affairs, 25 Oct. 2023 In many filmic portrayals of teens, driving in the middle of the night signifies impending mischief, but these scenes subvert the expectation of rebellion and replace it with a sense of duty: to find and collect pufflings in cardboard boxes. Jessica Bishopp, The New Yorker, 8 Nov. 2023 Was January 6th an insurrection or rebellion, in that legal sense of the term? Did Donald Trump engage in that insurrection? ABC News, 5 Nov. 2023 Throughout history, the spark of rebellion has come from unexpected quarters: authors, economists, carpenters. Hattie Lindert, Pitchfork, 4 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rebellion.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near rebellion

Cite this Entry

“Rebellion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


re·​bel·​lion ri-ˈbel-yən How to pronounce rebellion (audio)
: open opposition to authority
: open fighting against authority (as one's government)

More from Merriam-Webster on rebellion

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