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

Like communities across the country, Bristol and New Britain are getting hammered by a dramatic upheaval in the market for recyclables. Don Stacom, courant.com, "As trade war spurs dramatic upheaval in the market for recyclables, Connecticut communities lose hundreds of thousands of dollars," 9 July 2019 Volunteers gave out Hong Kong newspapers and posters advertising the upheaval in the city over the past weeks. Shibani Mahtani, Washington Post, "Hong Kong protesters seek to educate mainland Chinese about their struggle around city train station," 8 July 2019 On Twitter, symptoms of renters’ malaise could be found all over the place, with some apartment dwellers fearing upheaval in their lives just because the landlord was suddenly making improvements to the property. Patrick May, The Mercury News, "Bay Area renters’ giant game of musical chairs plays out online," 8 July 2019 Milan are keen to make a marquee signing this summer following an upheaval on the bench and in the boardroom, with Marco Giampaolo being appointed as new manager and club legends Paolo Maldini and Zvonimir Boban taking up directorial roles. SI.com, "AC Milan Open Talks to With Lyon Over Star Man Nabil Fekir," 25 June 2019 Firtash, one of Ukraine’s most influential oligarchs, was arrested amid the political upheaval in Ukraine in 2014 that led to Russia’s seizure of the Crimean Peninsula. Rosemary Sobol, chicagotribune.com, "Controversial Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash accused in bribe plot may be headed to Chicago after judge refuses to discard indictment," 22 June 2019 Garrison thinks the sudden move was likely related to a time of great upheaval in this part of the Maya world. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, "The Lost World of the Maya is Finally Emerging From the Jungle," 7 Feb. 2019 As part of his tactical upheaval, Parreira opted to drop legendary striker Romario, which drew the fury of fans across the country. SI.com, "Carlos Alberto Parreira: The International Specialist Who Never Shied Away From a Challenge," 26 June 2019 Experts say shutting down Internet access during upheaval can backfire, fueling wider discontent. Claire Parker, Washington Post, "Sudan’s military has shut down the Internet to crush a popular revolt. Here’s how it could backfire.," 21 June 2019

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

15 Jul 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

Comments on upheaval

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


an act or instance of editing or removing

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