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[rev-uh-loo-shuh n] /ˌrɛv əˈlu ʃən/
an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed.
Sociology. a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure, especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence.
a sudden, complete or marked change in something:
the present revolution in church architecture.
a procedure or course, as if in a circuit, back to a starting point.
a single turn of this kind.
  1. a turning round or rotating, as on an axis.
  2. a moving in a circular or curving course, as about a central point.
  3. a single cycle in such a course.
  1. (not in technical use) rotation (def 2).
  2. the orbiting of one heavenly body around another.
  3. a single course of such movement.
a round or cycle of events in time or a recurring period of time.
Geology. a time of worldwide orogeny and mountain-building.
1350-1400; Middle English revolucion < Late Latin revolūtiōn- (stem of revolūtiō), equivalent to revolūt(us) (see revolute) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
antirevolution, adjective
nonrevolution, noun
postrevolution, adjective
prorevolution, adjective
semirevolution, noun
Can be confused
rebellion, revolt, revolution.
5. cycle, circuit, round, rotation. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for revolutions
  • When energy regimes converge with communications revolutions, human consciousness is altered.
  • Fear is an instructor of great sagacity and the herald of all revolutions.
  • At length the ancient system of religion and manners had fulfilled the circle of its revolutions.
  • There is scarce any object of curiosity more rational than the origin, the progress, and the various revolutions of human laws.
  • Whilst our saint during three years breathed the sweet air of retirement, the empire was agitated by several revolutions.
  • Some are political, ranging from local legislation to revolutions or wars.
  • Technological revolutions travel with the same stealth.
  • The twin revolutions of globalization and information are remaking economic and political structures.
  • Even so, revolutions in technology and culture have their limits.
  • The same story applies to developing countries undergoing modern industrial revolutions.
British Dictionary definitions for revolutions


the overthrow or repudiation of a regime or political system by the governed
(in Marxist theory) the violent and historically necessary transition from one system of production in a society to the next, as from feudalism to capitalism
a far-reaching and drastic change, esp in ideas, methods, etc
  1. movement in or as if in a circle
  2. one complete turn in such a circle: a turntable rotating at 33 revolutions per minute
  1. the orbital motion of one body, such as a planet or satellite, around another Compare rotation (sense 5a)
  2. one complete turn in such motion
a cycle of successive events or changes
(geology, obsolete) a profound change in conditions over a large part of the earth's surface, esp one characterized by mountain building: an orogenic revolution
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Late Latin revolūtiō, from Latin revolvere to revolve
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
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Word Origin and History for revolutions



late 14c., originally of celestial bodies, from Old French revolucion "course, revolution (of celestial bodies)" (13c.), or directly from Late Latin revolutionem (nominative revolutio) "a revolving," noun of action from past participle stem of Latin revolvere "turn, roll back" (see revolve).

General sense of "instance of great change in affairs" is recorded from mid-15c. Political meaning "overthrow of an established political system" first recorded c.1600, derived from French, and was especially applied to the expulsion of the Stuart dynasty under James II in 1688 and transfer of sovereignty to William and Mary.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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revolutions in Science
  1. The motion of an object around a point, especially around another object or a center of mass.

  2. A single complete cycle of such motion.

Our Living Language  : In everyday speech revolution and rotation are often used as synonyms, but in science they are not synonyms and have distinct meanings. The difference between the two terms lies in the location of the central axis that the object turns about. If the axis is outside the body itself—that is, if the object is orbiting about another object—then one complete orbit is called a revolution. But if the object is turning about an axis that passes through itself, then one complete cycle is called a rotation. This difference is often summed up in the statement "Earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the Sun."
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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