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

Leaders of Djibouti and Eritrea, which also had a turbulent relationship after multiple border clashes, met with the help of Ethiopia, though there has been no breakthrough. Edith M. Lederer, The Seattle Times, "UN lifts sanctions on Eritrea, keeps arms embargo on Somalia," 14 Nov. 2018 The Wall Street Journal has a deep dive into Trump's turbulent relationship with Cohen. NBC News, "First Read's Morning Clips: Dems feel good about shrinking Senate map," 15 June 2018 The jury verdict followed a three-week trial in which the boy's father, a physician at Baylor College of Medicine, testified at length about his turbulent relationship with the child's mother, who worked at an investment firm. Gabrielle Banks, Houston Chronicle, "Federal judge rejects domestic violence defense in Brazilian grandparents' kidnapping case," 5 June 2018 The sisters have had a turbulent relationship, with most of the drama lately surrounding Kyle’s new television series, American Woman, loosely inspired by her life growing up in L.A. in the 1970s. Erika Harwood, Vanities, "Paris Hilton D.J.’d at Her Brother’s Wedding," 4 June 2018 Steele’s turbulent relationship with his party’s right wing was laid bare again last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference, held at National Harbor in Prince George’s County. John Fritze, baltimoresun.com, "Maryland's Michael Steele, once the national Republican Party leader, searches for his place in Trump's GOP," 8 Apr. 2018 Others have been open about their turbulent relationship with the bride-to-be. Tamara Fuentes, Good Housekeeping, "Meghan Markle's Family Members Have Said Some Pretty Controversial Things About Her," 30 Mar. 2018 Cher and Allman met in 1975 and had a turbulent relationship; they were married in Las Vegas three days after Cher's divorce from Sonny Bono was finalized. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "Cher Attended the Funeral of Her Ex-Husband, Gregg Allman," 5 June 2017 The main drama in Denino’s life is his turbulent relationship with his viewers. Adrian Chen, The New Yorker, "Ice Poseidon’s Lucrative, Stressful Life as a Live Streamer," 8 Dec. 2014

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

20 Jan 2019

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

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


a complex dispute or argument

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