Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


a. Open, armed, and organized resistance to a constituted government.
b. An instance of this.
a. Defiance toward an authority or established convention: an act of adolescent rebellion.
b. An instance of this.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin rebelliō, rebelliōn-, from rebellāre, to rebel; see rebel.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) organized resistance or opposition to a government or other authority
2. dissent from an accepted moral code or convention of behaviour, dress, etc
[C14: via Old French from Latin rebelliō revolt (of those conquered); see rebel]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(rɪˈbɛl yən)

1. open, organized, and armed resistance to a government or ruler.
2. resistance to or defiance of any authority, control, or tradition.
[1300–50; Middle English rebellioun < Old French < Latin rebelliō=rebell(āre) to rebel + -iō -ion]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


, revolution - Rebellion is open resistance to a government or authority; revolution is a rebellion that succeeds in overthrowing the government and establishing a new one.
See also related terms for revolution.
Farlex Trivia Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.



fly in the face of To recklessly defy or challenge; to act in bold opposition to. A bird or insect that flies in the face of a predator is acting against its instincts and thus courting trouble. The phrase is often used figuratively to describe political or social opposition:

He had to fly in the face of adverse decisions. (Nations, December, 1891)

Extensions of the expression include to fly in the face of danger and to fly in the face of providence, both of which carry a sense of reckless or impetuous disregard for safety.

kick against the pricks To protest in vain, to ineffectually resist a superior force or authority, especially to one’s own detriment. This expression appears several times in the Bible. In Acts 9:5 Jesus answers Saul’s question “Who art thou, Lord?” by answering:

I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Prick in this case literally refers to a sharp, pointed goad for oxen and figuratively to the voice of authority. To literally kick against the pricks then is a painful and thoroughly futile act.

For the past ten years he has known what it is to “kick against the pricks” of legitimate Church authority. (Marie Corelli, God’s Good Man, 1904)

kick over the traces To rebel, to resist or rise up against the accepted order, to throw off or defy conventional restraints. A harnessed horse literally kicks over the traces when it gets a leg outside the straps (traces) connecting its harness to a carriage or wagon.

The effervescence of genius which drives men to kick over the traces of respectability. (Sir Leslie Stephen, Hours in a Library, 1876)

left-wing Espousing radical or progressive political, social, or economic ideologies; favoring extensive political, social, or economic reform; socialistic; Communistic. This expression arose as the result of the French National Assembly of 1789 in which conservatives were seated in the right side, or wing, of the hall, moderates in the middle, and radical democrats and extremists in the left wing. This seating arrangement persists in several contemporary legislatures including the British Commonwealth Assemblies where politicians with radical or socialistic views usually sit to the left of the presiding officer. After World War II, and especially during the McCarthy era, left-wing usually implied that one was a Communist or a Communist sympathizer.

The left-wing challenge over Europe is expected to unseat at least one member of the Labour Party National Executive Committee. (Times, September 5, 1972)

People or groups of people with left-wing philosophies are frequently called left wing, left-wingers, or the Left. The radical political activists in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s were often called the New Left in an attempt to dissociate them and their activities from intimations of Communist influence or complicity.

sow dragon’s teeth See PROVOCATION.

take the bit between one’s teeth To cast off external controls and take charge of one’s own life; to rebel against unfair restraints or impositions. The bit in this expression refers to the mouthpiece of a bridle, attached to the reins used to control a horse. When a horse takes the bit between his teeth, the pain in his mouth is relieved and he becomes more manageable. This expression, dating from the early 17th century, often implies willful defiance. A variant is take the bit in one’s teeth.

young Turk An insurgent; one who advocates reform in a staid, conservative organization; a rebel; a political radical or liberal. In 1891, a group of reformists established the Young Turks, a political party dedicated to realigning the priorities of the Turkish Empire and instituting European ideologies and customs in governmental procedures. After inciting a revolt in 1908 in which the Sultan was deposed, the Young Turks remained a viable political force until the end of World War I. By extension, young Turk has assumed figurative implications as evidenced in this quote from John Gunther (1901-70), cited in Webster’s Third:

The young Turks … [are] opposed to the ossified conservatism of the older, so-called statesmen.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.rebellion - refusal to accept some authority or code or conventionrebellion - refusal to accept some authority or code or convention; "each generation must have its own rebellion"; "his body was in rebellion against fatigue"
resistance - group action in opposition to those in power
2.rebellion - organized opposition to authorityrebellion - organized opposition to authority; a conflict in which one faction tries to wrest control from another
conflict, struggle, battle - an open clash between two opposing groups (or individuals); "the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph"--Thomas Paine; "police tried to control the battle between the pro- and anti-abortion mobs"
insurgence, insurgency - an organized rebellion aimed at overthrowing a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict
intifada, intifadah - an uprising by Palestinian Arabs (in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank) against Israel in the late 1980s and again in 2000; "the first intifada ended when Israel granted limited autonomy to the Palestine National Authority in 1993"
mutiny - open rebellion against constituted authority (especially by seamen or soldiers against their officers)
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. resistance, rising, revolution, revolt, uprising, mutiny, insurrection, insurgency, insurgence They soon put down the rebellion.
2. nonconformity, dissent, defiance, heresy, disobedience, schism, insubordination, apostasy He engaged in a small act of rebellion against his heritage.
"Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God" [John Bradshaw]
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


Organized opposition intended to change or overthrow existing authority:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
ثَوْرَه، تَمَرُّدعِصْيان
neita aî hlÿîauppreisn


[rɪˈbeljən] Nrebelión f, sublevación f
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[rɪˈbɛljən] n
(against society, upbringing, one's parents)rébellion f, révolte f
(MILITARY) (= uprising) → rébellion f, révolte f
(POLITICS)rébellion f, révolte f
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nRebellion f, → Aufstand m; to rise (up) in rebellioneinen Aufstand machen, sich erheben
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[rɪˈbɛljən] nribellione f
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(ˈrebl) noun
1. a person who opposes or fights against people in authority, eg a government. The rebels killed many soldiers; (also adjective) rebel troops.
2. a person who does not accept the rules of normal behaviour etc. My son is a bit of a rebel.
(rəˈbel) verb past tense, past participle reˈbelled
to fight (against people in authority). The people rebelled against the dictator; Teenagers often rebel against their parents' way of life.
rebellion (rəˈbeljən) noun
1. an open or armed fight against a government etc.
2. a refusal to obey orders or to accept rules etc.
rebellious (rəˈbeljəs) adjective
rebelling or likely to rebel. rebellious troops/children.
reˈbelliously adverb
reˈbelliousness noun
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


n. rebelión.
English-Spanish Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012
References in classic literature ?
I have been too much moulded to his sway to nurse now any idea of rebellion in my heart.
When he was about seven years old the quiet of his Highland home was broken by the sounds of war, for the Highland folk had risen in rebellion against King George II., and were fighting for Prince Charlie, hoping to have a Stewart king once more.
now a rebellion on foot in this kingdom in favour of the son of that
When the rebellion of An Lu-shan broke out, he returned to his native place, where he was cruelly murdered by the censor Lu Ch`in-hsiao.
A protocol of the violence practiced by the prisoner against his jailer was immediately drawn up, and as it was made on the depositions of Gryphus, it certainly could not be said to be too tame; the prisoner being charged with neither more nor less than with an attempt to murder, for a long time premeditated, with open rebellion.
Among other things they told him that this regulation had been carried out to its full extent in the case of a prisoner named Mathias, who in 1668, that is to say, five years before, had committed a much less violent act of rebellion than that of which Cornelius was guilty.
During that long interval Starbuck would ever be apt to fall into open relapses of rebellion against his captain's leadership, unless some ordinary, prudential, circumstantial influences were brought to bear upon him.
I say it only shows his foolish, impious pride, and abominable, devilish rebellion against the reverend clergy.
But the principal argument for reposing the power of pardoning in this case to the Chief Magistrate is this: in seasons of insurrection or rebellion, there are often critical moments, when a welltimed offer of pardon to the insurgents or rebels may restore the tranquillity of the commonwealth; and which, if suffered to pass unimproved, it may never be possible afterwards to recall.
A spasm of resistance and rebellion seized and swept over her.
It is generally found possible -- by a little artificial compression or expansion on the part of the State physicians -- to make some of the more intelligent leaders of a rebellion perfectly Regular, and to admit them at once into the privileged classes; a much larger number, who are still below the standard, allured by the prospect of being ultimately ennobled, are induced to enter the State Hospitals, where they are kept in honourable confinement for life; one or two alone of the more obstinate, foolish, and hopelessly irregular are led to execution.
Hence arose those frequent rebellions against the Romans in Spain, France, and Greece, owing to the many principalities there were in these states, of which, as long as the memory of them endured, the Romans always held an insecure possession; but with the power and long continuance of the empire the memory of them passed away, and the Romans then became secure possessors.