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[tur-moil] /ˈtɜr mɔɪl/
a state of great commotion, confusion, or disturbance; tumult; agitation; disquiet:
mental turmoil caused by difficult decisions.
Obsolete. harassing labor.
Origin of turmoil
1505-15; orig. as v.: to agitate; etymology uncertain; perhaps tur(n) + moil
1. turbulence, disorder, uproar. See agitation.
1. order, quiet. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for turmoil
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Historical Examples
  • But it has vigor, vividness and sincere emotion, and through it all runs the turmoil and thunder of the battle.

  • It grows dusk, and there is still the same bustle and turmoil on deck.

    A Boy's Voyage Round the World The Son of Samuel Smiles
  • Yesterday, when Flora and I sat at our sewing in the manse parlour, something happened which has set everything in a turmoil.

    Out in the Forty-Five Emily Sarah Holt
  • In the confusion and turmoil a voice cried: "Mount, for God's sake!"

    Lorraine Robert W. Chambers
  • In 1670, when Carteret attempted to collect quit-rents, the settlers refused to pay, and for two years the colony was in turmoil.

    The Colonization of North America Herbert Eugene Bolton
British Dictionary definitions for turmoil


violent or confused movement; agitation; tumult
(archaic) to make or become turbulent
Word Origin
C16: perhaps from turn + moil
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for turmoil

1520s, perhaps an alteration of Middle French tremouille "mill hopper," in reference to the hopper's constant motion to and fro, from Latin trimodia "vessel containing three modii," from modius, a Roman dry measure, related to modus "measure." Attested earlier in English as a verb (1510s), though this now is obsolete.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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