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 The donation comes at a time when many people are facing homelessness and food insecurity for the first time, in the midst of massive economic upheaval and high unemployment numbers brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, "Thousands of pounds of food salvaged for Anchorage soup kitchen after truck overturns," 27 Dec. 2020 While the virus itself has yet to infect more than 90% of the nation, its wake of economic upheaval and social isolation has left many Americans emotionally drained, mentally exhausted and deeply depressed. Ledyard King, USA TODAY, "Help for movie theaters, farms, mass transit: What's in the COVID-19 rescue bill you might not know about," 24 Dec. 2020 As Super Duper’s experience suggests, the economic upheaval wrought by the coronavirus has had a knock-on effect on the biofuels industry. Bryan Mena, SFChronicle.com, "California restaurants are hurting. That means less leftover cooking oil to make biofuels," 13 Dec. 2020 But the latest data doesn’t capture the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic in 2020, including how the unemployment rate for Asian Americans shot up from 2.6% to 12% before declining to 6.7% in the past year. NBC News, "Location, education propel Asian American income growth in U.S.," 10 Dec. 2020 Like many of its peers in retail who had offered hazard pay as an incentive for workers to keep coming in during the pandemic, Amazon ended its bonuses after an economic upheaval swelled the ranks of job seekers. Fortune, "Amazon says it will offer warehouse staff a one time bonus amid union drive," 27 Nov. 2020 Like many of its peers in retail who had offered hazard pay as an incentive for workers to keep coming in during the pandemic, Amazon ended its bonuses after an economic upheaval swelled the ranks of job seekers. Matt Day, Bloomberg.com, "Amazon Will Spend $500 Million on Holiday Employee Bonuses," 27 Nov. 2020 Battered by the economic upheaval from the coronavirus pandemic, British businesses are desperate for a trade agreement that would limit further disruption in January when the country quits Europe’s trading system. Mark Landler, New York Times, "Trump’s Defeat Weakens Boris Johnson in Urgent Brexit Talks," 9 Nov. 2020 Although the pandemic has undercut Trump’s reelection bid since the spring, the latest surge poses special perils for Trump, whom voters largely blame in polls for the worsening pandemic and resulting economic upheaval. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Today’s Headlines: Not turning the corner," 29 Oct. 2020

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of upheaval was in 1838

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Statistics for upheaval

Last Updated

18 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Upheaval.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/upheaval. Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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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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