tur·​bu·​lent | \ˈtər-byə-lənt \

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

The decision arrived hours after another turbulent ninth inning and, again, an explosive exit that set social media ablaze. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros demote reliever Ken Giles to Fresno," 12 July 2018 The often conflicting motivations of U.S. voters in Tuesday’s elections seem emblematic of where the nation stands at 2018’s turbulent midpoint, as the country’s two major parties continue on starkly divergent roads toward November midterms. Washington Post, "Immigration tops conflicting motivations for primary voters," 28 June 2018 Harley-Davidson to take big hit from EU tariffs NASA's new picture of Jupiter is stunning and 'turbulent' at the same time, like a Van Gogh painting. Fox News, "FOX NEWS FIRST: SC governor hopes for 'Trump bump' in primary runoff; Democrats fear Leftist harass backlash," 26 June 2018 Last month Save Money rapper Sterling Hayes dropped his SideFX mixtape, where his raw performances build on the themes and sound of his dark, turbulent 2016 full-length, Antidepressant. Leor Galil, Chicago Reader, "Chicago band Diagonal do mid-90s shoegaze so well they might have a time machine," 26 June 2018 Kanye West has had a turbulent summer, to say the least. Rebecca Farley, refinery29.com, "Kanye West Opens Up About Suicidal Thoughts, Being Bipolar, & Trump," 25 June 2018 In the letter, McCoy details a turbulent six months. Ben Steele, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Marquette women's basketball player Tori McCoy is seeking a kidney donation," 12 July 2018 In an extensive open letter Xia apologised for a lack of communication to supporters after a turbulent number of weeks saw both the chief executive Keith Wyness and director of football Steve Round leave the club. SI.com, "Aston Villa Owner Releases Lengthy Open Letter to Fans to 'Clarify' Financial Difficulties," 7 July 2018 Byrne, a physicist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, had previously studied turbulent energy transfer in lab experiments. Joshua Sokol, WIRED, "Flattened Fluids Help Scientists Understand Oceans and Atmospheres," 7 July 2018

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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Statistics for turbulent

Last Updated

27 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for turbulent

The first known use of turbulent was in 1538

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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 \

Kids Definition of turbulent

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

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Comments on turbulent

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full of whispering sounds

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