up·​heav·​al | \ˌəp-ˈhē-vəl, (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

In 2015 and 2016, officials held back planned rate increases due to upheaval in global markets, mostly emanating from China. Nick Timiraos, WSJ, "Fed Raises Interest Rates, Signals One More Increase This Year," 26 Sep. 2018 Dieselgate has led to an upheaval in Germany’s politics as well. Wolfgang Kerler, The Verge, "You thought Dieselgate was over? It’s not.," 18 Sep. 2018 Coping with fertility issues and the economic and emotional upheaval of in vitro fertilization, the pair seems to have exhausted all options. Michaela Bechler, Vogue, "5 New Netflix Movies We’re Excited About This Fall," 10 Aug. 2018 Failure, by contrast, could spread turmoil to the Gulf, which broadly avoided the upheaval of the Arab spring of 2011. The Economist, "How to ensure Muhammad bin Salman’s reforms succeed," 23 June 2018 The reason for the delay was unclear, but Mr. Marsh suspected that it could be related to the recent trade upheaval. New York Times, "This Factory Was Ready to Expand. Then Came the Trump Trade Wars.," 1 June 2018 His journey into black theology began with the social upheavals of the mid-1960s. Jemar Tisby, Houston Chronicle, "Commentary: How crucifixion of Jesus foreshadowed lynching," 6 May 2018 But major health shifts, even positive ones, can also lead to major skin upheaval. Chloe Metzger, Marie Claire, "The Quarter-Life Skin Crisis: Why Women Are Suddenly Breaking Out in Their Mid-20s," 30 Apr. 2018 Across four hundred pages, Setright documents a time of great upheaval in the sport. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "F1 2018: More than a great game, it’s an interactive history lesson," 17 Aug. 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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Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

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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.

: an occurrence in which a part of the Earth's surface moves up forcefully


up·​heav·​al | \ˌəp-ˈhē-vəl \

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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the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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