Turbulent means chaotic, disordered, characterized by conflict. A time of war is a turbulent time for a country. If your family moves and your parents get divorced, you might call that a turbulent period in your history.

This adjective also commonly describes unstable or violent movement in the atmosphere, or in oceans and rivers. When the pilot comes announces turbulent air or turbulence ahead, get ready for the plane to bump and shake. Turbulence has another specialized sense when describing an uneven flow of a liquid or gas.

Definitions of turbulent

adj characterized by unrest or disorder or insubordination

“a turbulent and unruly childhood”
disruptive, riotous, troubled, tumultuous
characterized by unrest or disorder

adj (of a liquid) agitated vigorously; in a state of turbulence

turbulent rapids”
churning, roiled, roiling, roily
physically disturbed or set in motion

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