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
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 In the wake of He’s 2018 revelation, Denis Rebrikov, a DNA sequencing specialist at the Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University, has pursued a project to correct a deafness mutation in couples who each have the aberrant gene. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "Commission charts narrow path for editing human embryos," 3 Sep. 2020 If one of their 37 genes is aberrant, mitochondria can’t perform, resulting in any of hundreds of mitochondrial diseases. Sharon Begley, STAT, "Gene-editing discovery could point the way toward a ‘holy grail’: cures for mitochondrial diseases," 8 July 2020 Even if half of Americans are unaware of how their police have been militarized, and some further fraction of the population has come to accept it as simply the new normal, foreign observers do see how aberrant and menacing the situation is. Michael Shank, The New York Review of Books, "How Police Became Paramilitaries," 3 June 2020 About half of melanoma patients have a gene called BRAF that contains a mutation producing an aberrant protein that drives tumor growth. Jocelyn Kaiser, Science | AAAS, "On-off dosing of cancer drugs does not help melanoma patients," 27 Apr. 2020 That’s an aberrant message from any president, let alone a wartime one. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Catastrophes normally bring Americans together. Why not now?," 19 Apr. 2020 Park’s neuroscience research indicates aberrant brain responses to reward cues. Jennifer Couzin-frankel, Science | AAAS, "Rethinking anorexia: Biology may be more important than culture, new studies reveal," 9 Apr. 2020 But the only civic role Democrats are allowed to play, in this vision, is to facilitate the removal of an aberrant Republican president. Marisa Kabas, The New Republic, "The Panic of the Never Trumpers," 31 Jan. 2020 Meanwhile, interest has grown in new approaches, especially in those focused on an aberrant protein called tau. Washington Post, "Alzheimer’s Disease," 5 Dec. 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

9 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Aberrant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aberrant. Accessed 26 Sep. 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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