tur·bu·lence | \ ˈtər-byə-lən(t)s \

Definition of turbulence 

: the quality or state of being turbulent: such as

a : great commotion or agitation emotional turbulence

b : irregular atmospheric motion especially when characterized by up-and-down currents

c : departure in a fluid from a smooth flow

Examples of turbulence in a Sentence

The plane hit quite a bit of turbulence during our flight. A period of turbulence preceded the riots.

Recent Examples on the Web

The turbulence in China reflects domestic challenges more than trade tensions. The Economist, "As its trade tussle with America heats up, China is on the back foot," 5 July 2018 The cave’s flat floor was unremarkable, but its ceiling was a geological masterpiece, in places scooped out by vertical turbulence, in others thick with stalactites, which hung in lumpen chandeliers. Henry Wismayer, WSJ, "Undiscovered Europe: A Vacation Like No Other," 23 May 2018 The party said in a statement and a complaint to the police that the plane shuddered, lost altitude quickly and tilted to the left in turbulence. Fox News, "Plane carrying Rahul Gandhi loses altitude, lands safely," 26 Apr. 2018 The president, known as Jokowi, will be looking to Warjiyo to help steer the economy through the current turbulence. Karlis Salna, Bloomberg.com, "Forged in Crisis, Newest Asian Central Bank Chief Comes Prepared," 28 Mar. 2018 Given the recent market turbulence and uncertainties surrounding trade and global growth, some may have to lower their valuation expectations, said Eddie Wong, a partner in capital-markets services. Joanne Chiu, WSJ, "Xiaomi Shares Slip Ahead of Official Debut," 6 July 2018 Things like water temperature, water depth, water turbulence, and the amount of Chlorophyll A—a proxy for the amount of food in an area—combined to create spots the particular species is drawn to visit. Larisa Bennett, Smithsonian, "Smart Software Helps Fishermen Catch the Fish They Want, Not Endangered Species," 6 June 2018 Additionally, each model handles weather processes that occur in between grid cells — such as turbulence and small cloud growth — differently. Samantha Durbin, Washington Post, "What are weather models, exactly, and how do they work?," 18 May 2018 But in a White House known for extreme turbulence and the constant ebb and flow of POTUS’ affections, fears, and moods, Pence has chosen to maintain his status via a degree of obsequiousness that is embarrassing even to watch. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "George Will Calls ‘Repulsive’ Pence Worse Than Trump," 10 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'turbulence.' 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 turbulence

1595, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for turbulence

Last Updated

31 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for turbulence

The first known use of turbulence was in 1595

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More Definitions for turbulence



English Language Learners Definition of turbulence

: sudden, violent movements of air or water

: a state of confusion, violence, or disorder


tur·bu·lence | \ ˈtər-byə-ləns \

Kids Definition of turbulence

: irregular movements of air currents The ride got rough when the plane hit turbulence.

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More from Merriam-Webster on turbulence

Spanish Central: Translation of turbulence

Nglish: Translation of turbulence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of turbulence for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about turbulence

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