rev·​o·​lu·​tion | \ ˌre-və-ˈlü-shən How to pronounce revolution (audio) \

Definition of revolution

1a(1) : the action by a celestial body of going round in an orbit or elliptical course also : apparent movement of such a body round the earth
(2) : the time taken by a celestial body to make a complete round in its orbit
(3) : the rotation of a celestial body on its axis
b : completion of a course (as of years) also : the period made by the regular succession of a measure of time or by a succession of similar events
c(1) : a progressive motion of a body around an axis so that any line of the body parallel to the axis returns to its initial position while remaining parallel to the axis in transit and usually at a constant distance from it
(2) : motion of any figure about a center or axis revolution of a right triangle about one of its legs generates a cone
2a : a sudden, radical, or complete change
b : a fundamental change in political organization especially : the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed
c : activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation
d : a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something : a change of paradigm the Copernican revolution
e : a changeover in use or preference especially in technology the computer revolution the foreign car revolution

Choose the Right Synonym for revolution

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

Revolution and Revolt

Revolution and revolt have a shared origin, both ultimately going back to the Latin revolvere “to revolve, roll back.” When revolution first appeared in English in the 14th century, it referred to the movement of a celestial body in orbit; that sense was extended to “a progressive motion of a body around an axis,” “completion of a course,” and other senses suggesting regularity of motion or a predictable return to an original position. At virtually the same time, the word developed a sharply different meaning, namely, ”a sudden radical, or complete change,” apparently from the idea of reversal of direction implicit in the Latin verb. Revolt , which initially meant “to renounce allegiance,” grew from the same idea of “rolling back,” in this case from a prior bond of loyalty.

Examples of revolution in a Sentence

The group started a revolution. The king knew that there was a threat of revolution. This new theory could cause a revolution in elementary education. the revolution of the Earth around the Sun The period of revolution of the Earth around the Sun is equal to one year. The Earth makes one revolution on its axis in about 24 hours. This motor operates at a speed of 5,000 revolutions per minute. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Lenin’s revolution was almost half a century old by then, and while the former leader’s portraits and quotations were still ubiquitous, the intensity of his appeal was fading. Katie Stallard, WSJ, 4 May 2022 Kraft’s percussive revolution has been astonishingly widespread. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 23 Apr. 2022 As the talent revolution is in full swing and as people are leaving jobs in droves, some companies are increasing wages and making remote work more available. Tracy Brower, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2022 When contractor Bechtel completed the project in 2009, the fracking revolution was underway, and the import business was nowhere. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 15 Mar. 2022 But the 2014 revolution in Ukraine was transformative. Jordan Michael Smith, The New Republic, 3 Mar. 2022 The electric revolution has been underway for a while now. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 2 Mar. 2022 That is what the revolution of dignity was all about. Sabrina Eaton, cleveland, 24 Feb. 2022 This revolution has made travelers' lives easier by providing a comfortable ride to their destination, particularly on such short notice. David Astoria, Forbes, 14 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of revolution

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for revolution

Middle English revolucioun "rotation of the heavenly spheres around the earth, cyclical recurrence, completed motion around an axis, change of fortune," borrowed from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French revolucion "return of a celestial body to its point of departure, recurrence," borrowed from Medieval Latin revolūtiōn-, revolūtiō, going back to Late Latin, "a rolling back, return, recurrence," from Latin revolū-, variant stem of revolvere "to roll back to a starting point, (passive) travel in a circular course, return to a starting point" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at revolve

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

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Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Revolution.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for revolution


rev·​o·​lu·​tion | \ ˌre-və-ˈlü-shən How to pronounce revolution (audio) \

Kids Definition of revolution

1 : the action by a heavenly body of going round in a fixed course The revolution of the earth around the sun marks one year.
2 : a spinning motion around a center or axis : rotation A light push started the globe's revolution.
3 : a single complete turn (as of a wheel) The earth makes one revolution on its axis in 24 hours.
4 : a sudden, extreme, or complete change (as in manner of living or working)
5 : the overthrow of a ruler or government by violent action

More from Merriam-Webster on revolution

Nglish: Translation of revolution for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of revolution for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about revolution


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