[ rev-uh-loo-shuhn ]
See synonyms for revolution on
  1. an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed.

  2. Sociology. a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure, especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence.: Compare social evolution.

  1. a sudden, complete or marked change in something: the present revolution in church architecture.

  2. a procedure or course, as if in a circuit, back to a starting point.

  3. a single turn of this kind.

  4. Mechanics.

    • a turning round or rotating, as on an axis.

    • a moving in a circular or curving course, as about a central point.

    • a single cycle in such a course.

  5. Astronomy.

    • (not in technical use) rotation (def. 2).

    • the orbiting of one heavenly body around another.

    • a single course of such movement.

  6. a round or cycle of events in time or a recurring period of time.

  7. Geology. a time of worldwide orogeny and mountain-building.

Origin of revolution

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English revolucion, from Late Latin revolūtiōn-, stem of revolūtiō “rollback, rotation”; equivalent to revolute + -ion

Other words for revolution

Other words from revolution

  • an·ti·rev·o·lu·tion, adjective
  • non·rev·o·lu·tion, noun
  • post·rev·o·lu·tion, adjective
  • pro·rev·o·lu·tion, adjective
  • sem·i·rev·o·lu·tion, noun

Words that may be confused with revolution Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

British Dictionary definitions for revolution


/ (ˌrɛvəˈluːʃən) /

  1. the overthrow or repudiation of a regime or political system by the governed

  2. (in Marxist theory) the violent and historically necessary transition from one system of production in a society to the next, as from feudalism to capitalism

  1. a far-reaching and drastic change, esp in ideas, methods, etc

    • movement in or as if in a circle

    • one complete turn in such a circle: a turntable rotating at 33 revolutions per minute

    • the orbital motion of one body, such as a planet or satellite, around another: Compare rotation (def. 5a)

    • one complete turn in such motion

  2. a cycle of successive events or changes

  3. geology obsolete a profound change in conditions over a large part of the earth's surface, esp one characterized by mountain building: an orogenic revolution

Origin of revolution

C14: via Old French from Late Latin revolūtiō, from Latin revolvere to revolve

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

Scientific definitions for revolution


[ rĕv′ə-lōōshən ]

  1. The motion of an object around a point, especially around another object or a center of mass.

  2. A single complete cycle of such motion.

usage For revolution

In everyday speech revolution and rotation are often used as synonyms, but in science they are not synonyms and have distinct meanings. The difference between the two terms lies in the location of the central axis that the object turns about. If the axis is outside the body itself-that is, if the object is orbiting about another object-then one complete orbit is called a revolution. But if the object is turning about an axis that passes through itself, then one complete cycle is called a rotation. This difference is often summed up in the statement “Earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the Sun.”

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.