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.
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