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

Synonyms for upheaval

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for upheaval

Contemporary Examples of upheaval

Historical Examples of upheaval

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for upheaval



a strong, sudden, or violent disturbance, as in politics, social conditions, etc
geology another word for uplift (def. 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

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