aberration

play
noun ab·er·ra·tion \ˌa-bə-ˈrā-shən\

Definition of aberration

  1. 1a :  the fact or an instance of deviating or being aberrant especially from a moral standard or normal state aberrations of characterb :  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 aberration … — The New Republic

  2. 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. 3 :  unsoundness or disorder of the mind

  4. 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. 5 :  an aberrant individual

aberrational

play \-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

Examples of aberration in a Sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. For her, such a low grade on an exam was an aberration.

  5. a study of sexual aberration

Recent Examples of aberration from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of aberration

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


ABERRATION Defined for Kids

aberration

play
noun ab·er·ra·tion \ˌa-bə-ˈrā-shən\

Definition of aberration for Students

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


Medical Dictionary

aberration

play
noun ab·er·ra·tion \ˌab-ə-ˈrā-shən\

Medical Definition of aberration

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

  2. 2:  unsoundness or disorder of the mind

  3. 3:  an aberrant organ or individual

aberrational

\-shnəl, -shən-əl\play adjective


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to be a fixed element or attribute

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

July 2017 Words of the Day Quiz

  • alt-597a99e699d07
  • Which is a synonym of gauche?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!