up·​heav·​al | \ ˌəp-ˈhē-vəl How to pronounce upheaval (audio) , (ˌ)ə-ˈpē-\

Definition of upheaval

1 : the action or an instance of upheaving especially of part of the earth's crust
2 : extreme agitation or disorder : radical change also : an instance of this

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Examples of upheaval in a Sentence

The civil rights movement marked a period of social upheaval in the U.S. the emotional upheaval of divorce a period of cultural and social upheavals The island was created by an upheaval of the ocean floor. The lake was formed by geologic upheaval.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Barnes was fired by Texas in 2015 before trying to stabilize a Tennessee program that was under upheaval. Steve Megargee, The Seattle Times, "Barnes, Tennessee look for another signature win vs Purdue," 25 Mar. 2019 The intimate story of Cleo's relationship to the fracturing family and her unplanned pregnancy plays out against the backdrop of sociopolitical upheaval taking place in Mexico at the time. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Everything You Need To Know About Roma Before it Sweeps the 2019 Oscars," 24 Feb. 2019 Such upheaval won’t upset harried bosses at rival food companies, particularly Europe’s lumbering giants Unilever , Danone and Nestle . Carol Ryan, WSJ, "What Kraft Heinz’s Mess Means for Rivals and Investors," 22 Feb. 2019 One of the reasons for the reluctance of Muslim governments to criticize China over Xinjiang is that, following the upheaval of the 2011 Arab Spring, many are implementing unprecedented crackdowns on dissent of their own. Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ, "The Muslim World Looks On as China Persecutes Its Muslims," 21 Feb. 2019 The youth congress was established in 1937 and grew, even through the upheaval of World War II. Jeffrey Collins, The Seattle Times, "Booklet recalls forgotten, integrated South Carolina meeting," 23 July 2018 But in the upheaval of the late 1960s, nothing was the usual. Bill Turque, kansascity, "How the untold story of Sly James' youth shapes his hopes for healing KC's racial divide | The Kansas City Star," 23 Mar. 2018 Fifty years ago, in the midst of the upheaval of riots and the subsequent open housing marches, Vel Phillips was the only African-American and woman on the council. Mary Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Hope and Change 2.0: City could be on cusp of ending 172-year streak of white male mayors," 26 Jan. 2018 The hire comes as Facebook’s upper ranks undergo a major upheaval, which has contributed to infighting between Mr. Zuckerberg and other senior executives over the direction of the company. Deepa Seetharaman, WSJ, "Facebook Turns to U.K. Politician to Help Repair Its Image," 19 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'upheaval.' 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 upheaval

1838, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for upheaval

Last Updated

20 May 2019

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Time Traveler for upheaval

The first known use of upheaval was in 1838

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English Language Learners Definition of upheaval

: a major change or period of change that causes a lot of conflict, confusion, anger, etc.
technical : an occurrence in which a part of the Earth's surface moves up forcefully


up·​heav·​al | \ ˌəp-ˈhē-vəl How to pronounce upheaval (audio) \

Kids Definition of upheaval

: a period of great change or violent disorder

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More from Merriam-Webster on upheaval

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with upheaval

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for upheaval

Spanish Central: Translation of upheaval

Nglish: Translation of upheaval for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of upheaval for Arabic Speakers

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one that collects or salvages junk

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