re·​bel·​lion | \ ri-ˈbel-yən How to pronounce rebellion (audio) \

Definition of rebellion

1 : opposition to one in authority or dominance
2a : open, armed, and usually unsuccessful defiance of or resistance to an established government
b : an instance of such defiance or resistance

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Choose the Right Synonym for rebellion

rebellion, revolution, uprising, revolt, insurrection, mutiny mean an outbreak against authority. rebellion implies an open formidable resistance that is often unsuccessful. open rebellion against the officers revolution applies to a successful rebellion resulting in a major change (as in government). a political revolution that toppled the monarchy uprising implies a brief, limited, and often immediately ineffective rebellion. quickly put down the uprising revolt and insurrection imply an armed uprising that quickly fails or succeeds. a revolt by the Young Turks that surprised party leaders an insurrection of oppressed laborers mutiny applies to group insubordination or insurrection especially against naval authority. a mutiny led by the ship's cook

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Plenty of teenagers rebel against their parents in all kinds of ways. But a rebellion usually involves a group. Armed rebellions are usually put down by a country's armed forces, or at least kept from expanding beyond a small area. The American War of Independence was first viewed by the British as a minor rebellion that would soon run its course, but this particular rebellion led to a full-fledged revolution--that is, the overthrow of a government. Rebellion, armed or otherwise, has often alerted those in power that those they control are very unhappy.

Examples of rebellion in a Sentence

The king's army suppressed the rebellion. The unfair tax laws sparked a rebellion. The peasants rose in rebellion. She's the head of a rebellion against the leaders of the party. Recent election losses have led to open rebellion among some party members, who are calling for a complete change of leadership.
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Recent Examples on the Web Washington rode in with 13,000 men and peaceably put down the rebellion. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 14 Sep. 2021 In 2006, the U.K. joined a growing contingent of U.S. Special Operations Forces working to quell the rebellion in Sangin. Anand Gopal, The New Yorker, 6 Sep. 2021 Before and during Blair Mountain, Logan County Sheriff Don Chafin ruled the region and sided with local coal operators, hoping to put down the rebellion and restore order in his jurisdiction. Abby Lee Hood, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 Aug. 2021 The laws worsened after the 1831 Nat Turner rebellion in Virginia. Christina Tkacik,, 1 July 2021 The 1980 urban rebellion in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami came in response to a not-guilty verdict in the trial of police officers accused of fatally assaulting a Black motorcyclist the year before. New York Times, 18 May 2021 Czech media linked the attack to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and fomenting of a rebellion in eastern Ukraine, reporting that arms in the depot were destined for Ukraine. Washington Post, 19 Apr. 2021 Their voices veer from rebellion to resignation about how to navigate everything from cartels to corruption to climate change. Los Angeles Times, 5 Aug. 2021 After all, beards, minus a few exceptions, are banned at Brigham Young University and have been since the 1960s, when they were viewed as a symbol of anti-war, anti-establishment rebellion. David Noyce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 15 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rebellion.' 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 rebellion

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for rebellion

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The first known use of rebellion was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rebellion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for rebellion



English Language Learners Definition of rebellion

: an effort by many people to change the government or leader of a country by the use of protest or violence
: open opposition toward a person or group in authority
: refusal to obey rules or accept normal standards of behavior, dress, etc.


re·​bel·​lion | \ ri-ˈbel-yən How to pronounce rebellion (audio) \

Kids Definition of rebellion

1 : open opposition to authority The strict rules caused rebellion in their class.
2 : an open fight by citizens against their government

More from Merriam-Webster on rebellion

Nglish: Translation of rebellion for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rebellion for Arabic Speakers


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