[ uhp-hee-vuhl ]
/ 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.

Nearby words

  1. upfront,
  2. upgather,
  3. upgrade,
  4. upgrowth,
  5. upham,
  6. upheave,
  7. upheld,
  8. uphill,
  9. uphold,
  10. upholder

Origin of upheaval

First recorded in 1830–40; upheave + -al2

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

Examples from the Web for upheaval

British Dictionary definitions for upheaval


/ (ʌpˈhiːvəl) /


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