tur·​bu·​lent ˈtər-byə-lənt How to pronounce turbulent (audio)
: exhibiting physical turbulence
turbulent air
: characterized by agitation or tumult : tempestuous
a turbulent marriage
: causing unrest, violence, or disturbance
a set of mischievous, turbulent rebelsAnne Brönte
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 That has been the challenge facing Rena Lee, Singapore’s ambassador for oceans and law of the sea issues and the president of a U.N. intergovernmental conference on marine biodiversity, during five years of turbulent discussions over efforts to safeguard life in the high seas. Sylvia Earle, TIME, 17 Apr. 2024 Read about the turbulent issue of airline dress code policies. Alexandra Banner, CNN, 15 Apr. 2024 That’s not easy to do considering how the turbulent times the Hornets have dealt with during Clifford’s tenure, which inched one step closer to conclusion following Friday night’s 131-98 loss to Boston at TD Garden — an outing where both teams mostly rested their key players. Roderick Boone, Charlotte Observer, 13 Apr. 2024 Amid turbulent times, including an unfavorable view of the economy, wars abroad in Ukraine and the Middle East, an upcoming U.S. presidential election, and a divisive political environment, corporate leaders face challenges to retaining trust in the workplace. Byjohn Kell, Fortune, 10 Apr. 2024 The island has a turbulent past—its indigenous population was colonized by the Spanish and then the Dutch—and its archives contain artefacts ranging from sunny vintage postcards to books about the nation’s role in the slave trade and Venuzuela’s oil boom. Kate Knibbs, WIRED, 8 Apr. 2024 And as social media and the turbulent news cycle compete for visitors’ attention, museums must also rationalize their existence to the people who come through their doors every day. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 4 Apr. 2024 Stone, the 25-year-old right-hander who overcame a turbulent start to his MLB career last year, will be the fifth and final starter in the Dodgers’ opening-day rotation — a much-deserved honor after Stone surrendered just one run in 14 innings during the preseason. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 18 Mar. 2024 Boise residents will endure a turbulent Wednesday afternoon and evening as severe storms capable of producing strong winds, lightning and hail are expected to move through the Treasure Valley. Shaun Goodwin, Idaho Statesman, 3 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'turbulent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1538, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of turbulent was in 1538

Dictionary Entries Near turbulent

Cite this Entry

“Turbulent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/turbulent. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


tur·​bu·​lent ˈtər-byə-lənt How to pronounce turbulent (audio)
: causing or being in a state of unrest, violence, or disturbance
a turbulent relationship
turbulently adverb

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