Unknown origin. Perhaps from Old French tremouille (the hopper of a mill).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈtɜːmɔɪl/
  • (file)


turmoil (usually uncountable, plural turmoils)

  1. A state of great disorder or uncertainty.
    • 2012 June 19, Phil McNulty, “England 1-0 Ukraine”, in BBC Sport:
      Oleg Blokhin's side lost the talismanic Andriy Shevchenko to the substitutes' bench because of a knee injury but still showed enough to put England through real turmoil in spells.
  2. Harassing labour; trouble; disturbance.
    • c. 1590–1591, William Shakespeare, “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act II, scene vii]:
      And there I'll rest, as after much turmoil, / A blessed soul doth in Elysium.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 7, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      The turmoil went on—no rest, no peace. […] It was nearly eleven o'clock now, and he strolled out again. In the little fair created by the costers' barrows the evening only seemed beginning; and the naphtha flares made one's eyes ache, the men's voices grated harshly, and the girls' faces saddened one.




turmoil (third-person singular simple present turmoils, present participle turmoiling, simple past and past participle turmoiled)

  1. (obsolete, intransitive) To be disquieted or confused; to be in commotion.
    • 1642, John Milton, An Apology for Smectymnuus; republished in A Complete Collection of the Historical, Political, and Miscellaneous Works of John Milton, [], Amsterdam [actually London: s.n.], 1698, OCLC 926209975:
      some notable sophister lies sweating and turmoiling under the inevitable and merciless delimmas of Socrates
  2. (obsolete, transitive) To harass with commotion; to disquiet; to worry.
    • 1633, Edmund Spenser, A Vewe of the Present State of Irelande  [], Dublin: [] Sir James Ware; reprinted as A View of the State of Ireland [], Dublin: [] the Society of Stationers, [] Hibernian Press,  [] By John Morrison, 1809:
      It is her fatal misfortune [] to be thus miserably tossed and turmoiled with these storms of affliction.

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