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 In August, Schlamme penned a note to members summing up the momentous events of the past few years, from social upheaval to the pandemic, that made for an eventful tenure as head of the helmers union. Cynthia Littleton, Variety, 18 Sep. 2021 Expression of individualism was all but wiped out during the Cultural Revolution, a dark decade of social upheaval unleashed by Mao in 1966 when thought, speech and even attire were restricted. Nectar Gan And Steve George, CNN, 8 Sep. 2021 The year 2020 was about juggling work, teaching school, caring for children/parents, managing emotions related to social upheaval around the world and dealing with the massive disruption of a global pandemic. Tim Kulp, Forbes, 3 Sep. 2021 Across the country, younger leaders are moving toward more confrontational approaches, forged in an era of historic social upheaval and destined to clash with an older, more conservative brand of leadership. BostonGlobe.com, 11 Aug. 2021 This one makes sure the doom, depression and social upheaval that is essential to the show is unmissable. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, 4 Aug. 2021 There is widespread fear that the situation could quickly spiral out of control, especially given the gang violence, kidnappings, protests and social upheaval that have seized the country for months. New York Times, 8 July 2021 The body voted to oust President Martin Vizcarra in November, citing accusations of corruption and his handling of the pandemic, sparking a week of social upheaval. Ryan Dube, WSJ, 11 June 2021 The plan, announced this month by Mayor Ted Wheeler, aims to leverage the return of about 25,000 Portland State students to downtown this month to try to help businesses in the city center recover from the pandemic and months of upheaval. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive, 22 Sep. 2021

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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The first known use of upheaval was in 1838

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Last Updated

9 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Upheaval.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/upheaval. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce upheaval (audio) \

Kids Definition of upheaval

: a period of great change or violent disorder

More from Merriam-Webster on upheaval

Nglish: Translation of upheaval for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of upheaval for Arabic Speakers


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