cor·​re·​la·​tion | \ ˌkȯr-ə-ˈlā-shən How to pronounce correlation (audio) , ˌkär- \

Definition of correlation

1 : the state or relation of being correlated specifically : a relation existing between phenomena or things or between mathematical or statistical variables which tend to vary, be associated, or occur together in a way not expected on the basis of chance alone … the obviously high positive correlation between scholastic aptitude and college entrance … — James B. Conant
2 : the act of correlating

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Other Words from correlation

correlational \ ˌkȯr-​ə-​ˈlā-​shnəl How to pronounce correlational (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl , ˌkär-​ \ adjective

Examples of correlation in a Sentence

the correlation of brain size and intelligence Researchers have found a direct correlation between smoking and lung cancer. She says that there's no correlation between being thin and being happy.
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Recent Examples on the Web Any good data scientist will warn you: correlation is not causality. Fortune, "How designers are visualizing America’s failure to cope with COVID-19," 7 July 2020 This correlation is not a coincidence, according to a 2018 research brief by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which advocates for small businesses. Alec Macgillis, ProPublica, "How Dollar Stores Became Magnets for Crime and Killing," 29 June 2020 There is not a perfect correlation between race and serial participation. Laura Stark, The New Republic, "The Hidden Racism of Vaccine Testing," 29 June 2020 With Arizona's dry summer heat, some wonder what the correlation is between weather conditions and multiple raging wildfires, like the Bush Fire, Aguila Fire and Bighorn Fire. Alana Minkler, The Arizona Republic, "The perfect recipe for Arizona's extreme wildfires: Heat, dryness, thunderstorms and more," 25 June 2020 Typically, developers based their algorithms on studies showing a correlation between race and some medical outcome, assuming race explained or was even the cause of, say, a poorer outcome (from a vaginal birth after a cesarean, say). Sharon Begley, STAT, "Racial bias skews algorithms widely used to guide care from heart surgery to birth, study finds," 17 June 2020 Although the correlation between larger bodies and higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions is well known, some of the mechanisms behind the relationship are not straightforward. Virginia Sole-smith, Scientific American, "What if Doctors Stopped Prescribing Weight Loss?," 16 June 2020 At this point, researchers have only established a correlation between a pink hue and aggressive behaviors, but not causation. Virginia Morell, National Geographic, "Pinker flamingos are more aggressive, intriguing study finds," 9 June 2020 In April, a small study from the Philippines showed a correlation between vitamin-D levels and better outcomes for patients with the disease. James Hamblin, The Atlantic, "Paging Dr. Hamblin: Does Vitamin D Help Fight COVID-19?," 3 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'correlation.' 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 correlation

1561, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for correlation

Medieval Latin correlation-, correlatio, from Latin com- + relation-, relatio relation

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Time Traveler for correlation

Time Traveler

The first known use of correlation was in 1561

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Statistics for correlation

Last Updated

10 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Correlation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for correlation


How to pronounce correlation (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of correlation

: the relationship between things that happen or change together

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