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


derangement, insanity, lunacy, madness, mania


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

Either the quality of care at the Hospital has fallen sharply (which may have happened due to legislative budget cuts) or the treatment of the lady in the story above was just an aberration. John Woodrow Cox, Washington Post, "He saw a dazed woman put out in the cold by a Baltimore hospital. He started filming.," 12 Jan. 2018 Trump and his aides have sought to portray Foxconn as the poster child for Trump’s America First economic policies while dismissing the move by Harley-Davidson as an aberration. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Trump's trade war comes to Wisconsin," 30 June 2018 And excessive focus on the notion of Trump as a historical aberration is counterproductive to those ends. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Donald Trump, the resistance, and the limits of normcore politics," 3 July 2018 The only aberration was their 1-0 loss away to Newcastle United in February. SI.com, "Manchester United vs Swansea City Preview: Classic Encounter, Recent Form, Team News and More," 30 Mar. 2018 With Carter now in his fourth decade as ex-president, his actual presidency feels more like a footnote, an aberration in the life of a holy man. Michael Paterniti, GQ, "Jimmy Carter for Higher Office," 26 June 2018 In the 2000s, a medicine called Herceptin was shown to be effective for women with breast cancer, but only if the cancer cells carried a genetic aberration in a gene called HER-2. Siddhartha Mukherjee, New York Times, "The Search for Cancer Treatment Beyond Mutant-Hunting," 13 June 2018 Anyone with any sense of Texas Rangers' history knows that losing seasons are anything but aberrations. Mac Engel, star-telegram, "How Rangers general manager Jon Daniels pulled off his greatest heist," 7 June 2018 Maybe the 1990s usefulness of the Phillips curve rule of thumb was an aberration related to coincidental economic factors that had little cause-effect relationship. WSJ, "Was the Phillips Curve Ever a Reliable Tool?," 9 May 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

15 Oct 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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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