What does the word "revolution" mean in the phrase "Industrial Revolution?"

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bmrasmussen's profile pic

bmrasmussen | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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A revolution is something that brings about great changes very quickly.  A "revolutionary" idea is an idea that is completely new and very different from other ideas.  We refer to a person who wants to overthrow a government and change it as a "revolutionary".  Someone has "revolutionized" a process or job by making very big changes very quickly. An example sentence would be, "The invention of the smartphone has revolutionized the way I communicate with my friends."

So, the Industrial Revolution has to do with big changes that happen quickly.  The word "Industrial" tells us what kind of changes.  These changes have to do with industry, or inventions, machines, and the like.  So the Industrial Revolution is a period of great change in which many new inventions radically changed how people lived.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The word “revolution” in the term “Industrial Revolution” means something like “fundamental change.”  A revolution occurs when things change in a radical and important way.  Revolutions can take many forms.  They can cause fundamental changes in politics, in culture, or in economics.  The Industrial Revolution was mainly an economic revolution, but it also had an impact on culture and society and on politics.

In order for something to be a revolution, it has to comprise a radical change in some important aspect or aspects of a society.  The Industrial Revolution did change society very radically.  It started out as an economic revolution.  Up until the Industrial Revolution, most things were made by hand by skilled artisans.  Essentially all of the power used in the world was provided by muscles (human or animal) or by things like wind or water.  The Industrial Revolution changed all of that very drastically.  First, it allowed the use of mechanical power.  Instead of using water-driven machinery, for example, the Industrial Revolution relied on steam power.  Second, it used that mechanical power to mass produce things that had once been made by skilled artisans.  This started out with the use of steam power to drive machines for making textiles in English cities.  These changes radically changed the economy of England and, later, of other countries that industrialized.

So, the word “revolution” means a radical and fundamental change.  The Industrial Revolution was a radical and fundamental change that came about when new forms of power and new ways of making goods were discovered.

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udonbutterfly's profile pic

udonbutterfly | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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First let's break this down. Ask yourself what was the "Industrial Revolution?" The Industrial Revolution (through out each of the time periods where it occurred)signified a great advancement or change in the industrial industry that changed the way we live today. I guess you can say the newer, quicker, and efficient technology captured the past technology from which it was innovated from and gave the old way a newer proficient way. And what is that revolutions usually seek to do? That is to gain a much needed change to something more proficient, and to remove outdated ways. So the industrial in the "Industrial Revolution" would mean something like  a great advancement he replaces outdated ways/technology with more proficient ones.

rachellopez's profile pic

rachellopez | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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The definition of a revolution is "a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure". In the Industrial Revolution, a lot of inventions were created that completely changed how society and the workplace functioned. Inventions such as electricity, the steam engine, cotton gin, telegraph, etc. helped improve people's overall life and how they worked. These inventions caused changes at a very quick pace, which makes it a revolution.  

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