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ab·​er·​rant a-ˈber-ənt How to pronounce aberrant (audio)
ˈa-bə-rənt How to pronounce aberrant (audio)
: 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
: straying from the right or normal way
aberrant misfits
a-ˈber-ən(t)s How to pronounce aberrant (audio)
ˈa-bə-rən(t)s How to pronounce aberrant (audio)
aberrantly adverb


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

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
Recent Examples on the Web
That aberrant development is still with us via Dae-su’s flip phone and warped psychology — the guilt and anger that drive his unholy quest. Armond White, National Review, 6 Sep. 2023 These are conditions which, like chronic myelogenous leukemia, arise from a very basic genetic mechanism, which allows for developing pharmaceutical interventions that can target those aberrant systems. WIRED, 4 Sep. 2023 Adversarial attacks exploit the way that machine learning picks up on patterns in data to produce aberrant behaviors. WIRED, 1 Aug. 2023 And merely dismissing Charney as an aberrant offender — the one bad apple, good riddance — is a too-tidy conclusion for why these messy, glittering worlds continue to captivate us. Dana Schwartz, Washington Post, 24 July 2023 Visual deprivation can be considered an extreme form of aberrant early childhood experience, and congenital blindness is known to cause a reduction in brain surface area similar to other types of aberrant childhood experience. Cordula Hölig, Scientific American, 12 May 2023 The task for brain-stimulation researchers remains to find nodes in this aberrant circuitry that can be effectively modified with jolts of energy. IEEE Spectrum, 11 July 2023 Not to be seen as an aberrant comment, Lucero’s tweet adds to a growing pathetic and creepish track record. Prem Thakker, The New Republic, 27 June 2023 But they’ll also be impressed with how the author has, over the years, cultivated his own aberrant growth, flowering into marvelous, decadent forms out of this misshapen seed. Noah Berlatsky, Los Angeles Times, 11 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'aberrant.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


circa 1536, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1840, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of aberrant was circa 1536

Dictionary Entries Near aberrant

Cite this Entry

“Aberrant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aberrant. Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: being different from the usual or natural type

Medical Definition


ab·​er·​rant a-ˈber-ənt How to pronounce aberrant (audio) ə-; ˈab-ə-rənt How to pronounce aberrant (audio)
: straying from the right or normal way
aberrant behavior
: deviating from the usual or natural type : atypical sense 1
aberrant salivary tissue

More from Merriam-Webster on aberrant

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