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

His car company, Tesla, has hit some fairly serious economic turbulence. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Elon Musk’s Fall to Earth," 25 May 2018 Yet what distinguishes the Trump era’s turbulence is the sheer number of his deputies — many of them largely anonymous before his inauguration — who have become the focus of planned and sometimes spontaneous public fury. Paul Schwartzman, Washington Post, "‘Viciousness’: Trump aides endure public fury toward president’s policies," 9 July 2018 The turbulence was not only a sign of growing investor alarm at the state of Turkey’s economy. New York Times, "Turkey’s Currency Plunges, Potentially Threatening Erdogan’s Re-election Bid," 23 May 2018 Many anxious fliers manage their fear by gripping the seats, studying the flight attendants or analyzing every last bit of turbulence, Farchione says. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "Why Some People Have a Crippling Fear of Flying — and How They Can Overcome It," 6 July 2018 But will his reforms also mean greater turbulence in the Middle East? WSJ's Niki Blasina reports. Summer Said, WSJ, "Trump’s Bid to Weaken Iran Is Strengthening the Saudi Economy," 28 June 2018 More Growth Predictions of economic turbulence are stoking speculation of an early election. Bloomberg.com, "Turkey Overheating Means Race Against Time for Erdogan," 3 Apr. 2018 Farrell was catapulted to the city’s top job during a period of political turbulence, when the board voted to install him as mayor in January. Dominic Fracassa, SFChronicle.com, "Now-former SF Mayor Farrell looks back on short term, future of city," 12 July 2018 And unlike in previous years, there’s no indication that market turbulence will cause central bankers to deviate from their path. Fortune, "The Yield Curve Is Flatter! Remind Me Why I Care," 26 June 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

9 Nov 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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