Upheaval means a violent or sudden change. You might talk about an upheaval in government following an election where many incumbents are replaced.

Upheaval is a geological term for the upward displacement of the earth's crust that has stretched to include a change in power or ideas. If you suddenly found out your favorite teacher was running a pyramid scheme and had escaped to a Caribbean island, you might experience an upheaval in your attitude toward teachers in general.

Definitions of upheaval
  1. noun
    a violent disturbance
    synonyms: convulsion, turmoil
  2. noun
    disturbance usually in protest
    synonyms: agitation, excitement, hullabaloo, turmoil
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    type of:
    the act of disturbing something or someone; setting something in motion
  3. noun
    a state of violent disturbance and disorder (as in politics or social conditions generally)
    synonyms: Sturm und Drang, turbulence
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    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)
    a turbulent state resulting in injuries and destruction etc.
    violent state of the elements
    type of:
    a disturbance of the peace or of public order
  4. noun
    (geology) a rise of land to a higher elevation (as in the process of mountain building)
    synonyms: uplift, upthrow, upthrust
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    type of:
    ascension, ascent, rise, rising
    a movement upward
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