noun rev·o·lu·tion \ ˌre-və-ˈlü-shən \
|Updated on: 7 Aug 2018

Definition of revolution

1 a (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
(3) : rotation 1b
2 a : 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

Examples of revolution in a Sentence

  1. The group started a revolution.

  2. The king knew that there was a threat of revolution.

  3. This new theory could cause a revolution in elementary education.

  4. the revolution of the Earth around the Sun

  5. The period of revolution of the Earth around the Sun is equal to one year.

  6. The Earth makes one revolution on its axis in about 24 hours.

  7. This motor operates at a speed of 5,000 revolutions per minute.

Recent Examples of revolution from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of revolution

Middle English revolucioun, from Middle French revolution, from Late Latin revolution-, revolutio, from Latin revolvere to revolve

revolution Synonyms

Synonym Discussion of 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 Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of revolution for English Language Learners

  • : the usually violent attempt by many people to end the rule of one government and start a new one

  • : a sudden, extreme, or complete change in the way people live, work, etc.

  • : the action of moving around something in a path that is similar to a circle

REVOLUTION Defined for Kids


noun rev·o·lu·tion \ ˌre-və-ˈlü-shən \

Definition of revolution for Students

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

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fullness to the point of excess

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