aberration

noun

ab·​er·​ra·​tion ˌa-bə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce aberration (audio)
1
a
: 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 to 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
aberrational 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

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
Recent Examples on the Web New Mexico is the aberration at sixth, averaging 73.4 possession per game in a conference where most teams are at 65 or 66. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Feb. 2024 Meanwhile, Brock Purdy would be pressed to show his four-interception unraveling in the last showdown with Baltimore was merely an aberration. Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA TODAY, 23 Feb. 2024 So, how can investors and others who are not intimately familiar with Argentina’s economic and political cycles make decisions based on data that accounts for the fact that this problem is not an aberration but part of a much bigger picture? Robert Ginsburg, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2024 Whether 2015 was an aberration or a true sign that quail are coming back remains to be seen. Brent Frazee, Kansas City Star, 31 Jan. 2024 But nothing is proceeding as normal because the new liberal government is behaving as if the last eight years have been entirely an aberration, to be annulled by decree rather than reformed by law. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, 31 Jan. 2024 But by the end of the 120-minute slog of a debate, that line felt more like an aberration that blended into the background. Jonathan Swan, New York Times, 28 Sep. 2023 Moreover, the model findings offer an evolutionary explanation for exceptions to the rule, says Roy: these are not accidents or aberrations, but outcomes resulting from clear, mathematically interpretable pressures. Lauren Leffer, Popular Science, 18 Jan. 2024 The number of millionaires fell in 2022, according to a report from Swiss investment bank UBS, but that was more an aberration due to inflation and unfavorable foreign exchange rates around the globe, rather than the evening out of financial assets. Bypaolo Confino, Fortune, 16 Jan. 2024 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of aberration was in 1588

Dictionary Entries Near aberration

Cite this Entry

“Aberration.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aberration. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

aberration

noun
ab·​er·​ra·​tion ˌab-ə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce aberration (audio)
1
: the act of differing especially from a moral standard or normal state
2
: unsoundness or disorder of the mind
3
: a small regularly occurring change of apparent position in heavenly bodies due to the combined effect of the motion of light and the motion of the observer

Medical Definition

aberration

noun
ab·​er·​ra·​tion ˌab-ə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce aberration (audio)
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
aberrational adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on aberration

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