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

There’s also the termination of temporary protected status for more than 300,000 people living here from countries that experienced upheaval. Annie Linskey, BostonGlobe.com, "President Trump’s racially charged words dovetail with harsh policies," 9 July 2018 Civil rights demonstrators, activists and organizations utilized robust political tactics, stinging criticism and demonstrations that were designed to create upheaval in American society. Peniel E. Joseph, Washington Post, "America’s nonviolent civil rights movement was considered uncivil by critics at the time," 4 July 2018 His victory would constitute a major upheaval in a country currently battling unprecedented levels of violence, corruption and inequality. Ciara Nugent, Time, "Your Complete Guide to Mexico's 2018 Elections," 29 June 2018 Village centers throughout Columbia continue to go through upheavals in attempts to attract new businesses and customers in a changing retail market, one that no longer centers around one community shopping place. Kate Magill, Columbia Flier, "Once again, an Oakland Mills Village Center grocery closes," 25 June 2018 Council members verified a supervisor would be around during work hours, efforts to minimize dust upheaval would be employed and a phone number made available for people to share comments. Sara Cardine, latimes.com, "Prep work for 4-year dig at Devil’s Gate Dam set for this fall, county says," 21 June 2018 Peter Andersen, an officer with Sierra Club San Diego, criticized the pipeline, saying construction would cause literal upheaval in a number of communities and preserves like Mission Trails. Lyndsay Winkley, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Protesters reject proposed SDG&E pipeline," 17 June 2018 Stefanski told the Free Press a lack of cap space and no first-round pick makes major roster upheaval unlikely. Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Pistons hire Dwane Casey as head coach; five-year deal," 11 June 2018 Cruz predicts seismic upheaval for the Chilean church. Kristin E. Holmes, Philly.com, "The Philly man who survived sexual abuse by a priest, and the pope who asked for his forgiveness," 25 May 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

21 Oct 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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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).


a state of commotion or excitement

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