Definition of turbulent in English:



  • 1Characterized by conflict, disorder, or confusion; not controlled or calm.

    ‘the country's turbulent 20-year history’
    ‘her turbulent emotions’
    • ‘The book is a well-balanced account of both the baseball of the '30s and the larger social history of that turbulent era.’
    • ‘Built by Edward Longshanks and destroyed by the Duke of Cumberland's army as it advanced towards Culloden, Linlithgow Palace stands at the heart of Scotland's turbulent history.’
    • ‘Evidence of the region's turbulent history is everywhere.’
    • ‘The town had remained calm since the turbulent times seven months ago.’
    • ‘It's intense and turbulent and chaotic and calming and rhythmic all at the same time.’
    • ‘He's observed the turbulent history of the humble stage direction and has decided to take action.’
    • ‘The paper has had a somewhat turbulent history.’
    • ‘Since its introduction by the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, quality assurance of teaching has had a relatively brief but turbulent history.’
    • ‘After the most turbulent year in the history of the Olympic Games, Kevan Gosper has written an account of his life in sport, from being an athlete, through his years as a sports administrator.’
    • ‘The history of Romany gipsies and Irish travellers in Yorkshire is a long and turbulent one - and conflict with locals and the authorities is nothing new.’
    • ‘The break-in is the latest event in a turbulent recent history for the family who were thrust back into the media spotlight following the success of their eponymous reality TV show.’
    • ‘On no occasion throughout that turbulent history was an eventual withdrawal from the convertibility regime put under serious public discussion.’
    • ‘During its turbulent history it had known dozens of presidents, but their efforts to rule had been fruitless, invariably with blood flowing.’
    • ‘The July Monarchy was a turbulent time in French history.’
    • ‘Its structures, planes and buildings emit an emotional charge, rooted in the city's turbulent history.’
    • ‘Don't miss a tour of the Berlin Experience, which traces its turbulent history.’
    • ‘Wallace began his career in the 1830s as a land surveyor in Wales, during one of the most turbulent eras of British history.’
    • ‘I think that most other nationalities have had a turbulent enough history to know that one can never relax, that nothing is forever, that society is constantly making and re-making itself.’
    • ‘Just after he returned to Spain, the country entered a new and turbulent phase in its history.’
    • ‘Despite its turbulent history, the Borders has managed to retain a number of fine period homes.’
    tempestuous, stormy, unstable, unsettled, tumultuous, explosive, in turmoil, full of upheavals, full of conflict, full of ups and downs, roller-coaster, chaotic, full of confusion
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    1. 1.1 (of air or water) moving unsteadily or violently.
      ‘the turbulent sea’
      • ‘If the air was turbulent, maintaining a tight formation was a real chore.’
      • ‘Jimmy took off and flew all the way through turbulent air to land at Newark at 3: 51 pm.’
      • ‘He dropped down below the boat and the turbulent water.’
      • ‘The North Sea is an enchanting voyage across alternately silky and turbulent waters.’
      • ‘A mass of waves were sweeping the shoreline, and the turbulent water toppled trees and swept them towards both ends of the lake, now spread twice as wide as it had once been.’
      • ‘There is another very large grassy area across the other side of the lake which offers a more forgiving landing and less chance of turbulent air.’
      • ‘Suddenly, with a splash to wake the dead, it flipped over and he was tossed into the turbulent waters near mid-stream.’
      • ‘The turbulent water produces millions of air bubbles that circle about your mask and add to the thrill of the current.’
      • ‘They made their way through the turbulent waters, and Elijah breathed a sigh of relief.’
      • ‘Looking down at the turbulent waters below, she took a deep breath and prayed.’
      • ‘Only when they were finished did I discover that the wooden boats were barely buoyant enough to survive the turbulent water.’
      • ‘In these turbulent waters, the American Navy navigates the political shoals and does what it does best.’
      • ‘Needless to say he's in the turbulent water for an awfully long time.’
      • ‘In rougher, more turbulent water, trout are much harder to see.’
      • ‘He kicked and slapped the his way through the turbulent water in a desperate attempt to break through to the surface and breathe.’
      • ‘Charlie could see turbulent waters ahead, and prayed for wisdom.’
      • ‘It was as if the turbulent water of new relationship really had passed beneath the bridge, and now we were free to relax.’
      • ‘Ironically, wave power is produced not by water but by the air currents that are trapped and then pushed around by the turbulent waters.’
      • ‘The turbulent air is cooled, and this causes condensation and consequently an extensive stratus cloud is often formed.’
      • ‘Sorting is one result of the movement of sediment transported by turbulent air or water.’
      rough, stormy, tempestuous, storm-tossed, heavy, violent, wild, angry, raging, boiling, seething, foaming, choppy, bumpy, agitated
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    2. 1.2technical Relating to or denoting flow of a fluid in which the velocity at any point fluctuates irregularly and there is continual mixing rather than a steady or laminar flow pattern.
      • ‘Boundary layers have to be modelled with particular attention to the possible change from turbulent to laminar flow.’
      • ‘They can be viewed as a turbulent flow of liquid in which the chaotic fluctuations get larger as one examines the fluid with a magnifying glass on a finer and finer scale.’
      • ‘He studied the change in a flow along a pipe when it goes from laminar flow to turbulent flow.’
      • ‘Instabilities appear in the flow as Re increases, and all flows become turbulent at sufficiently large Reynolds numbers.’
      • ‘The flows can also be turbulent, which means there is little hope of solving the necessary equations.’


Late Middle English: from Latin turbulentus ‘full of commotion’, from turba ‘crowd’.