early 15c., "disorderly, tumultuous, unruly" (of persons), from Middle French turbulent (12c.), from Latin turbulentus "full of commotion, restless, disturbed, boisterous, stormy," figuratively "troubled, confused," from turba "turmoil, crowd" (see turbid). In reference to weather, from 1570s. Related: Turbulently.
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