tur·​bu·​lent | \ ˈtər-byə-lənt How to pronounce turbulent (audio) \

Definition of turbulent

1a : exhibiting physical turbulence turbulent air
b : characterized by agitation or tumult : tempestuous a turbulent marriage
2 : causing unrest, violence, or disturbance a set of mischievous, turbulent rebels— Anne Brönte

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Other Words from turbulent

turbulently adverb

Did You Know?

Some people lead turbulent lives, and some are constantly in the grip of turbulent emotions. The late 1960s are remembered as turbulent years of social revolution in America and Europe. Often the captain of an airplane will warn passengers to fasten their seatbelts because of upper-air turbulence, which can make for a bumpy ride. El Niño, a seasonal current of warm water in the Pacific Ocean, may create turbulence in the winds across the United States, affecting patterns of rainfall and temperature as well.

Examples of turbulent in a Sentence

Turbulent waters caused the boat to capsize. The sixties were a turbulent period in American history.
Recent Examples on the Web Suetonius, the governor of Britannia, was tired of the turbulent British priests — the Druids — and decided to stamp them out. Anne Thériault, Longreads, "Queens of Infamy: Boudicca," 12 May 2021 Here’s to a less-turbulent album cycle for this band. Justin Curto, Vulture, "Sleater-Kinney Is Back As a Duo With a New Album," 11 May 2021 Hemphill’s composing fused Duke Ellington’s refinement, Thelonious Monk’s unexpected cadences, and Charles Mingus’s turbulent romanticism with the grooves and sensuality of R&B and soul. Adam Shatz, The New York Review of Books, "A Blues Surrealist," 11 May 2021 For many Americans, spending less and saving more to weather the turbulent economy became second nature. Anuj Nayar, Forbes, "Four Ways To Boost Your Finances After The Pandemic," 11 May 2021 Sure would have been helpful for the Red Sox to have played the Yankees during their turbulent April rather than having to wait for that first meeting in early June. BostonGlobe.com, "About a quarter ways into the season, here are the truths we know about the Red Sox," 10 May 2021 Who would want to take a chance with a guy with such a turbulent past life? Amy Dickinson, oregonlive, "Ask Amy: Man with stormy past wonders when to reveal his history as he starts dating again," 4 May 2021 Who would want to take a chance with a guy with such a turbulent past life? Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, "Man with troubled past wonders how to date," 4 May 2021 Who would want to take a chance with a guy with such a turbulent past life? Amy Dickinson, Star Tribune, "Ask Amy: After four failed marriages, man wonders how to date again," 3 May 2021

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

1538, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for turbulent

Latin turbulentus, from turba confusion, crowd — more at turbid

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Time Traveler for turbulent

Time Traveler

The first known use of turbulent was in 1538

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Statistics for turbulent

Last Updated

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Turbulent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/turbulent. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for turbulent



English Language Learners Definition of turbulent

: moving in an irregular or violent way
: full of confusion, violence, or disorder : not stable or steady


tur·​bu·​lent | \ ˈtər-byə-lənt How to pronounce turbulent (audio) \

Kids Definition of turbulent

: causing or being in a state of unrest, violence, or disturbance turbulent protests turbulent weather

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