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 But the Ukraine scandal has created upheaval inside the State Department and the National Security Council, spurring the departure of a half-dozen seasoned foreign policy officials with Ukraine expertise. Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY, "Pompeo to visit Ukraine amid impeachment furor, disarray in Trump's policy toward key ally," 31 Dec. 2019 There are pieces in place to make this upheaval less jarring than in years past. Dan Labbe, cleveland, "Browns coaching search comes with a fresh sense of urgency," 30 Dec. 2019 Although the clock is ticking on a vote to prevent this upheaval to Americans’ health care coverage, count me as optimistic. Allyson Y. Schwartz, STAT, "Deadline looms to stop the Health Insurance Tax — but Congress has been there before," 13 Dec. 2019 Georgia — the next tier saw upheaval from last week. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "Gophers’ fall in ranking doesn’t alter bowl outlook but might mean Alabama matchup," 3 Dec. 2019 Many who experienced the institutional failures and global upheaval of the 2010s know that feeling. Oliver Staley, Quartzy, "The 2010s will be remembered as the decade of avocado toast and BTS," 29 Nov. 2019 Critchley, who partnered with DJ-philosopher Zenon Marko for the program, says that Bowie’s music feels particularly apt for 2019, a time of political upheavals and deep-seated chasms around the world. Anne Quito, Quartzy, "A David Bowie sing-along is among the highlights of New York’s next philosophy festival," 1 Oct. 2019 Britain may then have a harder time luring top talent from the continent and elsewhere, given the political upheaval and uncertainty for non-Brits considering living here. John Detrixhe, Quartz, "Despite Brexit, the UK is even more dominant in currency trading," 16 Sep. 2019 Going back to the great populist-labor upheavals of the Gilded Age and beyond, wealth redistribution proposals have long propelled economic reform movements on the left. John Case, The New Republic, "An Economy in Waiting," 8 July 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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Time Traveler for upheaval

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The first known use of upheaval was in 1838

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Statistics for upheaval

Last Updated

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Upheaval.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/upheaval. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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How to pronounce upheaval (audio)

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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