turbulence

Use the noun turbulence to describe instability or disturbance. If you’re on an airplane during a storm, turbulence is that horrible thing that is causing the plane (and your stomach) to bounce around.

The word turbulence can be used to refer to atmospheric instability, such as sudden, unpredictable air movements resulting from a storm, but the word has a broader meaning as well and you will often hear it used to describe any situation characterized by unrest and disorder. If your stocks are fluctuating wildly in price, that could be a result of turbulence in the stock market. If last year was filled with unpredictable change, you could describe it as a year of great turbulence.

Definitions of turbulence
  1. noun
    instability in the atmosphere
    see moresee less
    types:
    clear-air turbulence
    strong turbulence in an otherwise cloudless region that subjects aircraft to violent updrafts or downdrafts
    type of:
    bad weather, inclemency, inclementness
    weather unsuitable for outdoor activities
  2. noun
    a state of violent disturbance and disorder (as in politics or social conditions generally)
    “the industrial revolution was a period of great turbulence
    synonyms: Sturm und Drang, upheaval
    see moresee less
    types:
    show 4 types...
    hide 4 types...
    agitation, ferment, fermentation, tempestuousness, unrest
    a state of agitation or turbulent change or development
    roller coaster
    anything characterized by abrupt and extreme changes (especially up and down)
    violence
    a turbulent state resulting in injuries and destruction etc.
    rage
    violent state of the elements
    type of:
    disorder
    a disturbance of the peace or of public order
  3. noun
    unstable flow of a liquid or gas
    synonyms: turbulency
    see moresee less
    types:
    countercurrent, crosscurrent, rip, riptide, tide rip
    a stretch of turbulent water in a river or the sea caused by one current flowing into or across another current
    type of:
    physical phenomenon
    a natural phenomenon involving the physical properties of matter and energy
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week