When Mitt Romney used it during the final presidential debate ...
Lookups spiked on October 22, 2012.
During the final presidential debate, which had a focus on foreign policy, Mitt Romney used tumult five times in reference to the Middle East.
For example, "I see the Middle East with a rising tide of violence, chaos, tumult."
Tumult means "a disorderly agitation" or "a turbulent uprising."
One reason that many people looked up the word is that Mr. Romney used it repeatedly. Another reason is that it's relatively unusual - a word that is used much less frequently today than in the past.
Politicians often evoke the language of the Bible, and tumult is used 25 times in the King James Bible.