ab·​er·​rant | \ a-ˈber-ənt How to pronounce aberrant (audio) , ə-, -ˈbe-rənt; ˈa-bə-rənt How to pronounce aberrant (audio) , -ˌber-ənt, -ˌbe-rənt \

Definition of aberrant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : deviating from the usual or natural type : atypical, abnormal aberrant behavior I don't intend to suggest that his psychology was in some way aberrant or neurotic …— Michael Chabon
2 : straying from the right or normal way aberrant misfits



Definition of aberrant (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a group, individual, or structure that is not normal or typical : an aberrant group, individual, or structure
2 : a person whose behavior departs substantially from the standard

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Other Words from aberrant


aberrance \ a-​ˈber-​ən(t)s How to pronounce aberrance (audio) , ə-​ , -​ˈbe-​rən(t)s ; ˈa-​bə-​rən(t)s How to pronounce aberrance (audio) , -​ˌber-​ən(t)s , -​ˌbe-​rən(t)s \ noun
aberrancy \ a-​ˈber-​ən(t)-​sē How to pronounce aberrancy (audio) , ə-​ , -​ˈbe-​rən(t)-​ ; ˈa-​bə-​rən(t)-​ How to pronounce aberrancy (audio) , -​ˌber-​ən(t)-​ , -​ˌbe-​rən(t)-​ \ noun
aberrantly adverb

Did You Know?

Something aberrant has wandered away from the usual path or form. The word is generally used in a negative way; aberrant behavior, for example, may be a symptom of other problems. But the discovery of an aberrant variety of a species can be exciting news to a biologist, and identifying an aberrant gene has led the way to new treatments for diseases.

Examples of aberrant in a Sentence

Adjective The stones, silvered in the moon's aberrant light, shone like spectral tombs, and the figures, which Dalgliesh knew were Helena, Lettie and the Bostocks, became discarnate shapes disappearing into the darkness. — P. D. James, The Private Patient, 2008 … as if he had happily spied an aberrant crocus amid the wintry gray scene of Presidential impeachment. — Francis X. Clines, New York Times, 8 Jan. 1999 … at the brief and aberrant moment in time when it was possible to believe that America owed its great place in the world to its military and moral virtue rather than to the weight of its currency. — Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, March 1992 a year of aberrant weather—record rainfall in the summer, record heat in the autumn aberrant behavior can be a sign of rabies in a wild animal
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Unlike the University of Louisville’s 2012-13 basketball team, the Astros’ aberrant behavior had a direct bearing on actual games over multiple seasons and postseasons. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "If Louisville basketball's banner deserves an asterisk, so does the Houston Astros'," 13 Jan. 2020 Some voters may be willing to set aside Trump’s scandals, aberrant behavior, and controversial policies and focus exclusively on the state of the economy, but many, many others won’t. By John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "What Does a Strong Jobs Report Mean for Trump’s Chances in 2020?," 7 Dec. 2019 Over-reliance on charging quality-of-life infractions has not proven effective at deterring aberrant behaviors. Phil Matier, SFChronicle.com, "What’s the answer to quality-of-life crimes in SF. DA candidates give answers," 27 Oct. 2019 Rebrikov wants to use CRISPR to replace the aberrant DNA base with the correct one. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "Embattled Russian scientist sharpens plans to create gene-edited babies," 21 Oct. 2019 Research conducted in South Africa has found that in two cases of plains zebras with aberrant coloring, at least, the animals formed normal relationships with other zebras—including mating. National Geographic, "Rare polka-dotted zebra foal photographed in Kenya," 18 Sep. 2019 This leads to aberrant firing of the brain’s nerve cells and seizure activity. Jenny Wilkerson, chicagotribune.com, "Is CBD a rising star or just a popular fad?," 12 Sep. 2019 Once again, the father figure is identified with an aberrant morality that results in the girl’s betrayal of the mother figure. Rachel Cusk, The New Yorker, "Françoise Sagan, the Great Interrogator of Morality," 21 Aug. 2019 But much of this legal software is designed to help firms standardize their contracts by quickly finding aberrant clauses, rather than helping companies create bespoke contracts for each vendor or supplier. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "‘Skype Mafia’ Backs A.I. Startup Automating Contract Negotiations," 11 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aberrant.' 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 aberrant


circa 1536, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1840, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for aberrant


borrowed from Latin aberrant-, aberrans, present participle of aberrāre "to wander away, stray, go wrong," from ab- ab- + errāre "to wander, drift, be in error" — more at err


noun derivative of aberrant entry 1

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Time Traveler for aberrant

Time Traveler

The first known use of aberrant was circa 1536

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Statistics for aberrant

Last Updated

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Aberrant.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aberrance. Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for aberrant


ab·​er·​rant | \ a-ˈber-ənt How to pronounce aberrant (audio) , ə-; ˈab-ə-rənt How to pronounce aberrant (audio) , -ˌe(ə)r-ənt \

Medical Definition of aberrant

1 : straying from the right or normal way aberrant behavior
2 : deviating from the usual or natural type : atypical sense 1 aberrant salivary tissue

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Comments on aberrant

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


dull or mediocre

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