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

Trump’s Iraq trip comes at a time of upheaval for the administration The secret trip came amid a partial government shutdown and a chaotic time for the White House in terms of foreign policy. Alexia Underwood, Vox, "Trump’s secret trip to Iraq didn’t quite go as planned," 27 Dec. 2018 After years of upheaval — no chief justice has completed the six-year term since 2001 — both Parker and Vance emphasize the need to address systemic funding and staffing shortages. Kim Chandler, The Seattle Times, "A longtime Roy Moore ally seeks Alabama chief justice job," 30 July 2018 All this upheaval distracted me from what was unfolding: Joe’s frenzied preoccupation with every aspect of my life. Crystal Ponti, Harper's BAZAAR, "What It's Actually Like To Be Stalked by Joe," 12 Feb. 2019 Brazil’s political upheaval has even affected its soccer team’s famous yellow jersey. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "'Brazil's Donald Trump': World Cup fate impacts far-right presidential candidate," 6 July 2018 But the deal has sparked violent nationalist protests and political upheaval in both countries. The Economist, "The obstacles on Macedonia’s road to the EU," 28 June 2018 The car companies promise a dual upheaval in the decade to come: the rise of more truly autonomous vehicles as well as the mainstreaming of electrification, in which most cars will become at least hybrids if not full EVs. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "The Road Trip Had to Get Worse Before It Could Get Better," 2 Jan. 2019 To read about the upheaval in the Social Democratic Party, click here. Arne Delfs, Bloomberg.com, "Merkel Says She’ll Serve Another Full Term, Defying Critics," 11 Feb. 2018 The causes of the upheaval, including discontent with the country’s economy and its stifling political system, have put pressure on both Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and its less conservative president, Hassan Rouhani. Isaac Chotiner, Slate Magazine, "What Is Fueling the Protests in Iran?," 1 Jan. 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

11 Mar 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).


to reflect, repel, echo, or resound

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