AskDefine | Define revolution

Dictionary Definition



1 a drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving; "the industrial revolution was also a cultural revolution"
2 the overthrow of a government by those who are governed
3 a single complete turn (axial or orbital); "the plane made three rotations before it crashed"; "the revolution of the earth about the sun takes one year" [syn: rotation, gyration]

User Contributed Dictionary



From revolution, from revolutionem (accusative of revolutio).



  1. A political upheaval in a government or nation state characterized by great change.
  2. The removal and replacement of a government.
  3. The turning of an object around an axis.
  4. In the case of celestial bodies - the traversal of one body through an orbit around another body.
  5. A sudden, vast change in a situation, a discipline, or the way of thinking and behaving.



political upheaval
  • Arabic:
  • Chinese: 革命 (gémìng)
  • Czech: revoluce
  • Dutch: revolutie
  • Finnish: vallankumous
  • French: révolution
  • German: Revolution
  • Greek: επανάσταση
  • Hebrew: מהפכה (mahapekhá)
  • Icelandic: bylting
  • Italian: rivoluzione
  • Japanese: 改革
  • Korean: 혁명 (hyeokmyeong)
  • Kurdish:
    Sorani: شۆڕش
  • Polish: rewolucja
  • Portuguese: revolução
  • Romanian: revoluţie
  • Russian: революция
  • Spanish: revolución
  • Swedish: revolution
  • Telugu: విప్లవం (viplavaM)
  • Turkish: devrim, ihtilal
the removal and replacement of a government
  • German: Revolution
  • Japanese: 革命
  • Kurdish:
    Sorani: شۆڕش
  • Romanian: revoluţie
  • Russian: переворот
  • Turkish: darbe
the turning of an object around an axis
  • German: Umdrehung
  • Greek: περιστροφή
  • Japanese: 回転
  • Kurdish:
    Sorani: خول
  • Russian: вращение
  • Turkish: döngü
the traversal of one body through an orbit around another body
a sudden, vast change in a situation or discipline
  • German: Revolution
  • Japanese: 革命
  • Turkish: devrim

Extensive Definition

A revolution (from the Latin revolutio, "a turnaround") is a significant change that usually takes place in a long period of time. Aristotle described two types of political revolution:
  1. Complete change from one constitution to another
  2. Modification of an existing constitution.
Revolutions have occurred throughout human history and vary widely in terms of methods, duration, and motivating ideology. Their results include major changes in culture, economy, and socio-political institutions.
Scholarly debates about what does and does not constitute a revolution center around several issues. Early studies of revolutions primarily analyzed events in European history from a psychological perspective, but more modern examinations include global events and incorporate perspectives from several social sciences, including sociology and political science. Several generations of scholarly thought on revolutions have generated many competing theories and contributed much to the current understanding of this complex phenomenon.

Political and socioeconomic revolutions

Perhaps most often, the word 'revolution' is employed to denote a change in socio-political institutions. Jeff Goodwin gives two definitions of a revolution. A broad one, where revolution is "any and all instances in which a state or a political regime is overthrown and thereby transformed by a popular movement in an irregular, extraconstitutional and/or violent fashion"; and a narrow one, in which "revolutions entail not only mass mobilization and regime change, but also more or less rapid and fundamental social, economic and/or cultural change, during or soon after the struggle for state power." Jack Goldstone defines them as an effort to transform the political institutions and the justifications for political authority in society, accompanied by formal or informal mass mobilization and noninstitutionalized actions that undermine authorities.
Jack Goldstone differentiates four 'generations' of scholarly research dealing with revolutions. In time, scholars began to analyze hundreds of other events as revolutions (see list of revolutions and rebellions), and differences in definitions and approaches gave rise to new definitions and explanations. The theories of the second generation have been criticized for their limited geographical scope, difficulty in empirical verification, as well as that while they may explain some particular revolutions, they did not explain why revolutions did not occur in other societies in very similar situations.}}
There are many different typologies of revolutions in social science and literature. For example, classical scholar Alexis de Tocqueville differentiated between 1) political revolutions 2) sudden and violent revolutions that seek not only to establish a new political system but to transform an entire society and 3) slow but sweeping transformations of the entire society that take several generations to bring about (ex. religion). One of several different Marxist typologies divides revolutions into pre-capitalist, early bourgeois, bourgeois, bourgeois-democratic, early proletarian, and socialist revolutions. Charles Tilly, a modern scholar of revolutions, differentiated between a coup, a top-down seizure of power, a civil war, a revolt and a "great revolution" (revolutions that transform economic and social structures as well as political institutions, such as the French Revolution of 1789, Russian Revolution of 1917, or Islamic revolution of Iran). Other types of revolution, created for other typologies, include the social revolutions; proletarian or communist revolutions inspired by the ideas of Marxism that aims to replace capitalism with communism); failed or abortive revolutions (revolutions that fail to secure power after temporary victories or large-scale mobilization) or violent vs. nonviolent revolutions. One of the most recent, if perhaps not the most serious of typologies, divides revolutions by color - referring the type of recent revolutions known as the color revolutions (or flower revolutions).
The term revolution has also been used to denote great changes outside the political sphere. Such revolutions are usually recognized as having transformed in society, culture, philosophy and technology much more than political systems; they are often known as social revolutions. Some can be global, while others are limited to single countries. One of the classic examples of the usage of the word revolution in such context is the industrial revolution (note that such revolutions also fit the "slow revolution" definition of Tocqueville).

List of revolutions



  • Perreau-Sausine, Emile, Les libéraux face aux révolutions : 1688, 1789, 1917, 1933, Commentaire, Spring 2005, pp. 181-193

External links

revolution in Arabic: ثورة
revolution in Bulgarian: Революция
revolution in Catalan: Revolució
revolution in Czech: Revoluce
revolution in Danish: Revolution (politik)
revolution in German: Revolution
revolution in Estonian: Revolutsioon
revolution in Spanish: Revolución
revolution in Esperanto: Revolucio
revolution in Basque: Iraultza
revolution in Persian: انقلاب
revolution in French: Révolution
revolution in Scottish Gaelic: Ar-a-mach
revolution in Galician: Revolución
revolution in Korean: 혁명
revolution in Indonesian: Revolusi
revolution in Italian: Rivoluzione (politica)
revolution in Hebrew: מהפכה
revolution in Georgian: რევოლუცია
revolution in Latin: Res novae
revolution in Latvian: Revolūcija
revolution in Lithuanian: Revoliucija
revolution in Lojban: sutra binxo
revolution in Hungarian: Forradalom
revolution in Dutch: Revolutie
revolution in Japanese: 革命
revolution in Norwegian: Revolusjon
revolution in Norwegian Nynorsk: Revolusjon
revolution in Occitan (post 1500): Revolucion
revolution in Polish: Rewolucja
revolution in Portuguese: Revolução
revolution in Romanian: Revoluţie
revolution in Quechua: Pachakutiy
revolution in Russian: Революция
revolution in Albanian: Revolucioni
revolution in Simple English: Revolution
revolution in Slovenian: Revolucija
revolution in Serbian: Револуција
revolution in Serbo-Croatian: Revolucija
revolution in Finnish: Vallankumous
revolution in Swedish: Revolution
revolution in Thai: การปฏิวัติ
revolution in Vietnamese: Cách mạng
revolution in Turkish: Devrim
revolution in Ukrainian: Революція
revolution in Walloon: Revintreye
revolution in Yiddish: רעוואלוציע
revolution in Chinese: 革命

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Fabianism, about-face, accommodation, adaptation, adjustment, alteration, ambit, amelioration, anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, anarchy, angular momentum, angular motion, angular velocity, antinomianism, apostasy, arsis, axial motion, beat, betterment, bout, bowling, break, breakup, capsizal, capsize, cataclysm, centrifugation, change, change of heart, changeableness, chaos, circle, circuit, circulation, circumgyration, circumrotation, circumvolution, civil disorder, confusion, constructive change, continuity, conversion, coup d'etat, course, crack-up, criminal syndicalism, culbute, cycle, defection, degeneration, degenerative change, deterioration, deviation, diastole, difference, diffusion, discontinuity, disintegration, disorder, disorderliness, disorganization, dispersal, disruption, dissolution, divergence, diversification, diversion, diversity, downbeat, emeute, exfoliation, extremism, fitting, flip-flop, fragmentation, full circle, general uprising, gradual change, gradualism, gyration, gyre, improvement, insurgence, insurgency, insurrection, jacquerie, lap, levee en masse, loop, lynch law, melioration, meliorism, metamorphosis, misrule, mitigation, mob law, mob rule, mobocracy, modification, modulation, mutiny, nihilism, ochlocracy, orbit, outbreak, overset, overthrow, overturn, peasant revolt, pirouette, pivoting, primal chaos, progressivism, pulse, putsch, qualification, radical change, radical reform, radicalism, re-creation, realignment, rebellion, redesign, reel, reeling, reform, reformation, reformism, regeneration, remaking, renewal, reorganization, reshaping, restructuring, reversal, revisionism, revival, revivification, revolt, revolute, revolve, riot, rising, roll, rolling, rotation, rotational motion, round, round trip, rounds, scaling, scattering, series, shake-up, shattering, shift, somersault, somerset, spell, spill, spin, spinning, subversion, sudden change, swinging, swirling, switch, swiveling, syndicalism, systole, take-over, thesis, tohubohu, total change, tour, transformation, transition, trolling, trundling, turbination, turmoil, turn, turnabout, turning, turnover, twirl, unruliness, upbeat, upheaval, uprising, upset, upturn, utopianism, variation, variety, violent change, volutation, volution, walk, wheel, wheeling, whir, whirl, whirling, worsening
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