ab·​er·​ra·​tion | \ˌa-bə-ˈrā-shən \

Definition of aberration 

1a : the fact or an instance of deviating or being aberrant especially from a moral standard or normal state aberrations of character

b : something or someone regarded as atypical and therefore able be ignored or discounted Harkins was to be regarded as an aberration among American military leaders …— Neil Sheehan The U.S. establishment treated this grassroots movement almost as an aberration, virtually ignoring it.— Helen Caldicott As for Putin's desire to lay waste to Chechnya, Western leaders largely dismiss it as an aberrationThe New Republic

2 : failure of a mirror, refracting surface, or lens to produce exact point-to-point correspondence between an object and its image chromatic aberration … the telescope suffers from a serious focusing problem, a condition known as spherical aberration, which causes the point-like images of stars to be surrounded by fuzzy haze.— M. Mitchell Waldrop

3 : unsoundness or disorder of the mind

4 : a small periodic change of apparent position in celestial bodies due to the combined effect of the motion of light and the motion of the observer

5 : an aberrant individual

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Other Words from aberration

aberrational \-​shnəl, -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
aberrational behavior They react, often in anger, to particular decisions but tend to regard them as aberrational rather than systemic failures. — Robert H. Bork

Synonyms & Antonyms for aberration


dementia, derangement, insanity, lunacy, madness, mania, rage [archaic]


mind, saneness, sanity

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Examples of aberration in a Sentence

Recently geneticists have taken a closer look at a genetic aberration previously considered rare …  . The genes may be perfectly normal, yet there is a shortage or surplus of DNA sequences that may play a role in diseases that defy straightforward genetic patterns … — Melinda Wenner, Scientific American, June 2009 He did hit five homers for Texas in 1987, but that was an aberration. In no other major league season has he hit more than three, and last season he actually came up with a goose egg. — E. M. Swift, Sports Illustrated, 5 Apr. 1989 Gilliard's studies of numerous bird of paradise species brought them from the realm of exotic aberrations to the forefront of sociobiology. — Jared M. Diamond, Nature, 24-30 Sept. 1981 For her, such a low grade on an exam was an aberration. a study of sexual aberration
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Recent Examples on the Web

Typically, the smaller the lens, the larger the effect of the aberration. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Metamaterial-equipped endoscope reveals your innermost secrets," 4 Aug. 2018 Are the horror stories described by the Register an aberration, maybe excused as a state transitioning itself to a new system? Dylan Scott, Vox, "How much money is Iowa saving by privatizing Medicaid? It’s a mystery.," 21 May 2018 Complete games, such as the aberration submitted by David Price on Thursday, merit ticker-tape parades nowadays. Bob Ryan, BostonGlobe.com, "How have the four major sports changed over the years?," 19 May 2018 Saudi officials have sought to show allies that the Khashoggi incident is an aberration. Gordon Lubold, WSJ, "Khashoggi Killing Rocks Saudi Role as West’s Arab Ally," 28 Oct. 2018 The omens are good, and Democrats have reason to hope that 2016 was just an aberration. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Democrats suddenly look strong again in the Midwest," 25 Oct. 2018 Hammock scouted places with construction underway, or recently built aberrations on an otherwise untouched block. Diana Budds, Curbed, "How two movies portray Oakland’s rapid change," 29 Aug. 2018 Farrow makes the case well that, given our recent history, Trump is not (wholly) an aberration, but a toxic extension of trends in place. Barbara K. Bodine, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘War on Peace,’ by Ronan Farrow," 17 May 2018 Aside from the aberration that was the 70s, it's been that way forever. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Golden State Warriors just copying the path of past NBA champs," 5 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aberration.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of aberration

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for aberration

borrowed from Latin aberrātiōn-, aberrātiō "diversion, relief," from aberrāre "to wander away" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of action nouns — more at aberrant entry 1

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Statistics for aberration

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for aberration

The first known use of aberration was in 1588

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More Definitions for aberration


ab·​er·​ra·​tion | \ˌa-bə-ˈrā-shən \

Kids Definition of aberration

: an instance of being different from what is normal or usual The poor test grade was an aberration for her.


ab·​er·​ra·​tion | \ˌab-ə-ˈrā-shən \

Medical Definition of aberration 

1 : failure of a mirror, refracting surface, or lens to produce exact point-to-point correspondence between an object and its image

2 : unsoundness or disorder of the mind

3 : an aberrant organ or individual

Other Words from aberration

aberrational \-​shnəl, -​shən-​əl \ adjective

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Comments on aberration

What made you want to look up aberration? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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