tur·​bu·​lence | \ ˈtər-byə-lən(t)s How to pronounce turbulence (audio) \

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

Falling shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance pulled the Dow Jones Industrial Average lower Tuesday after the drugstore chain slashed its profit expectations, rekindling investors’ fears of economic turbulence. David Hodari, WSJ, "Walgreens Drags on Dow as U.S. Stocks Tread Water," 2 Apr. 2019 The Cboe Volatility Index, or VIX, tracks investor expectations for future turbulence in the stock market by using S&P 500 options prices. Gunjan Banerji, WSJ, "VIX Auction Bets Land Chicago Trader With $1.3 Million Fine," 1 Feb. 2019 The thick lasers excite sodium atoms in the high atmosphere, revealing the amount of turbulence in the air. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "New Technology Allows Ground Telescope to Take Sharper Images Than Hubble," 18 July 2018 With social turbulence in the air, the girls forge toward independence and a challenging future. Kt Hawbaker, chicagotribune.com, "Raven Theatre casts 'Crumbs From the Table of Joy' by Lynn Nottage," 11 July 2018 But buckle up, Gladiators, because here's another round of emotional turbulence. Emily Wang, Glamour, "Kerry Washington's Farewell Letter to 'Scandal' Would Make Even Eli Pope Cry," 20 Apr. 2018 Unlike these previous members, however, signs point to turbulence caused by someone other than Jake Paul — specifically the influence of his father, Greg, who Paul brought on to help guide the business. Megan Farokhmanesh, The Verge, "Jake Paul’s influencer circle begins to crumble as his dad comes aboard," 14 May 2018 Sparking the turbulence was a report released last week showing that hourly wage growth rose at its fastest pace since 2009. Adam Shell, USA TODAY, "Dow plunges more than 1,000 points, falls into correction territory," 8 Feb. 2018 But the decade also brought turbulence for the singer/songwriter. Marie Milano, Country Living, "A Detailed Timeline of Lionel Richie's Marriages and Relationships," 3 Mar. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of turbulence

1595, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about turbulence

Statistics for turbulence

Last Updated

27 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for turbulence

The first known use of turbulence was in 1595

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 How to pronounce turbulence (audio) \

Kids Definition of turbulence

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on turbulence

What made you want to look up turbulence? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that collects or salvages junk

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!