Definition: Revolution

From New World Encyclopedia


From Middle English revolucion, borrowed from Old French revolucion, from Late Latin revolūtiōnem, accusative singular of revolūtiō (the act of revolving; revolution), from Latin revolvō (roll back, revolve).


revolution (countable and uncountable, plural revolutions)

  1. A political upheaval in a government or state characterized by great change.
    It would take a revolution in order for a demurrage currency to be implemented nationwide, even in countries like Germany where plenty of city-wide currencies are doing this already.
  2. The removal and replacement of a government, especially by sudden violent action.
  3. Rotation: the turning of an object around an axis, one complete turn of an object during rotation.
  4. In the case of celestial bodies, the traversal of one body along an orbit around another body.
  5. A sudden, vast change in a situation, a discipline, or the way of thinking and behaving.
  6. A round of periodic changes, such as between the seasons of the year.
  7. Consideration of an idea; the act of revolving something in the mind.

Usage notes

Astronomers today do not use revolution to refer to the turning of an object about an axis: they use rotation for that, and revolution only for the traversal of a body through an orbit (which also happens around some axis). (This may be somewhat customary, however, strictly speaking, using either word for either process would not be incorrect.)

Derived terms

Related terms

  • revolve


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