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From Old French tumultuous (modern French tumultueux), from Latin tumultuōsus (restless, turbulent), from tumultus (disturbance, uproar, violent commotion, tumult; agitation, disturbance, excitement)[1] + -ōsus (suffix meaning ‘full of, prone to’ forming adjectives from nouns).



tumultuous (comparative more tumultuous, superlative most tumultuous)

  1. Characterized by loud, confused noise. [from mid 16th c.]
    Synonyms: noisy, uproarious; see also Thesaurus:noisy
  2. Causing or characterized by tumult; chaotic, disorderly, turbulent. [from mid 16th c.]
    Synonyms: riotous, tempestuous, tumultuary; see also Thesaurus:disorderly
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book IV”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC, lines 13–18:
      Yet not rejoycing in his [Satan's] ſpeed, though bold, / Far off and fearleſs, nor with cauſe to boaſt, / Begins his dire attempt, with nigh the birth / Now rowling, boiles in his tumultuous breſt, / And like a devilliſh Engine back recoiles, / Upon himſelf; []
    • 1715 July 24, Samuel Rosewell, The Unreasonableness of the Present Riotous and Tumultuous Proceedings: As are Directed against His Majesty King George; and His Faithful Subjects, the Protestant Dissenters: [], London: Printed for M. Lawrence, [], →OCLC, page 17:
      And ſeeing theſe Tumultuous and Rebellious Men do more immediately vent their Malice on ſome of their Fellow-Subjects and Fellow-Protestants, who will be true to their Oaths, and their Obligations to the King, whom God has placed over them, may not one humbly ask, As for theſe Sheep, what have they done? What Cauſe is there whereby an Account may be given of theſe tumultuous Inſurrections against them?
    • 1822, [Walter Scott], chapter V, in Peveril of the Peak. [], volume IV, Edinburgh: [] Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co., →OCLC, page 108:
      The old cavalier stooped his head in token of acquiescence in the command of his Sovereign, but he raised it not again. The tumultuous agitation of the moment had been too much for spirits which had been long in a state of depression, and health which was much decayed.
    • 1913, Booth Tarkington, chapter 5, in The Flirt, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Company, →OCLC, page 71:
      She leaned very slowly closer and yet closer to the mirror; a rich colour spread over her; her eyes, gazing into themselves, became dreamy, inexpressibly wistful, cloudily sweet; her breath was tumultuous.
    • 2007, Laurie Burnham, Rivers[1], Chelsea House, →ISBN, page 43:
      A tumultuous waterway, the Yangtze ranks second after the Amazon in terms of discharge. Fed by copious amounts of melting snow and also heavy rains, the river's flow is 10 times greater than China's Huang Ho (Hwang River, Huanghe; also known in English as the Yellow River).
    • 2017 March 1, Anthony Zurcher, “Trump Addresses Congress: A Kinder, Gentler President”, in BBC News[2], archived from the original on 2 February 2018:
      In his first address to a joint session of Congress, after a tumultuous first month in office, Mr [Donald] Trump delivered a conventional speech in a conventional manner.


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  1. ^ tumultuous, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1915.

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