adjective tur·bu·lent \ ˈtər-byə-lənt \
Updated on: 4 Mar 2018

Definition of turbulent

1 a : 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



Examples of turbulent in a Sentence

  1. Turbulent waters caused the boat to capsize.

  2. The sixties were a turbulent period in American history.

Recent Examples of turbulent from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of turbulent

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

Other Climate/Meteorology Terms

TURBULENT Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of turbulent for English Language Learners

  • : moving in an irregular or violent way

  • : full of confusion, violence, or disorder : not stable or steady

TURBULENT Defined for Kids


adjective tur·bu·lent \ ˈtər-byə-lənt \

Definition of turbulent for Students

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

Word Root of turbulent

The Latin word turba, meaning “disorder,” gives us the root turb. Words from the Latin turba have something to do with disorder. To disturb is to cause disorder to something or to someone's feelings. To perturb, or trouble, is to cause disorder to someone's mind. Anything turbulent is in a state of violence or disorder.

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