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

Keep scrolling for more

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

After a turbulent year, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro and Jen Harley appear to be in a better place. Aurelie Corinthios, PEOPLE.com, "Jersey Shore Star Ronnie Ortiz-Magro's On-Off Girlfriend Jen Harley Calls Him the 'Best Father'," 17 June 2019 In October, Tesla reported a record third-quarter profit of $311.5 million, surprising analysts and giving new confidence to investors who had weathered a turbulent year. Tim Higgins, WSJ, "Tesla to Slash More Jobs in Effort to Reduce Model 3 Price," 18 Jan. 2019 The Blues' FA Cup final victory over Manchester United seemed set to be Conte's swansong as the Italian was ushered out following a turbulent two years at Stamford Bridge. SI.com, "How Roman Abramovich Lost His Grip on English Football & What it Means for Chelsea Moving Forward," 29 June 2018 Rather than cataloguing Ethiopia’s turbulent modern history, Ms Edemariam stitches together the fragmentary memories and experiences of a single woman. The Economist, "A child bride who longed to dance," 22 Mar. 2018 Martins' future with the Portuguese side is more than uncertain following a turbulent few months. SI.com, "Arsenal Set to Compete With Lazio for the Signing of Highly Rated Portuguese Winger This Summer," 26 June 2018 The agreement could help stabilize one of Europe’s poorest and most turbulent regions, one where Russia has battled for influence and discouraged countries from joining NATO. Chico Harlan, Washington Post, "Macedonia agrees to a new name, ending a 27-year dispute with Greece," 12 June 2018 Related: That ruling left an immediate void, filled temporarily by Brower, a longtime court employee who was appointed acting clerk to start righting the ship that Spranger nearly sank after a turbulent 15 months in office. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "Macomb judges name long-time employee Kathy Smith interim county clerk," 7 May 2018 The departures-that-never-were cap a turbulent five months for Xerox. Carlos Tejada, New York Times, "Xerox Executives Stay Put as Settlement With Carl Icahn Expires," 4 May 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about turbulent

Statistics for turbulent

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for turbulent

The first known use of turbulent was in 1538

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


food or victuals

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!