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

Serena’s powerful moment of rebellion and even more powerful moment of sacrifice! Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 Finale Offers a Light in the Darkness," 11 July 2018 Zelie’s adventure is one of rebellion and self-discovery that aims to keep magic alive in a world where those without magic fear those who have it. Darcel Rockett,, "Meet Tomi Adeyemi, a former Hinsdale resident who might win Jimmy Fallon's book club contest," 28 June 2018 On May 25th seven activists were convicted on charges of rebellion and acts of terrorism. The Economist, "Repression is worsening in Cameroon amid an uprising over language," 31 May 2018 Puigdemont faces up to 25 years in prison in Spain on charges of rebellion and sedition. NBC News, "Fugitive ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont held by police in Germany," 25 Mar. 2018 Aside from complementing Rise's themes of rebellion and self-discovery, there's a more meta reason why Spring Awakening is perfect for the show., "This Is Why Spring Awakening Is The Only Musical That Made Sense For Rise," 19 Mar. 2018 The eight former members of the cabinet were detained in custody on November the 2nd on charges of sedition, rebellion and misappropriation of funds. Gabrielle Banks, Houston Chronicle, "Judge: 'Tainted' arrestees who heed Black Lives Matter part of rationale for nixing no-cash bail," 24 Feb. 2018 More on WorldViews: A Catalan leader will avoid extradition from Germany on rebellion charges. Rick Noack, Washington Post, "A Baltimore professor was the victim of an anti-Semitic attack and then German police punched him," 13 July 2018 The decision is a setback for the Spanish judiciary, which had hoped the German court would allow Puigdemont to stand trial on a rebellion charge, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years. Raphael Minder And Christopher F. Schuetze,, "Ex-Catalonia leader can be extradited, but not on the charge Spain wants," 13 July 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

10 Oct 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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