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[uhp-hee-vuh l] /ʌpˈhi vəl/
strong or violent change or disturbance, as in a society:
the upheaval of war.
an act of upheaving, especially of a part of the earth's crust.
the state of being upheaved.
Geology. an upward warping of a part of the earth's crust, forcing certain areas into a relatively higher position than before.
Origin of upheaval
First recorded in 1830-40; upheave + -al2
1. disruption, disorder, turmoil. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for upheaval
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This upheaval in the South, according to an investigator, will be helpful to all.

  • This mass arrest of the Gods is going to cause an upheaval all by itself.

    Pagan Passions Gordon Randall Garrett
  • Yet in all the upheaval, there was very little expression of surprise.

    Meeting of the Board Alan Edward Nourse
  • Such a wrench, such an upheaval as it had involved, could not but tell upon her immensely.

    We Two Edna Lyall
  • It is part of the process of Americanization; an upheaval preceding the state of repose.

    The Promised Land Mary Antin
British Dictionary definitions for upheaval


a strong, sudden, or violent disturbance, as in politics, social conditions, etc
(geology) another word for uplift (sense 7)
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 upheaval

1838, in geology, from Middle English verb upheave (c.1300, cf. Old Frisian upheva, Old High German ufhevan, German aufheben), from up + heave (v.) + -al (2). Figurative sense, with reference to convulsions of society, etc., recorded from 1850.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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