deviant

adjective
de·​vi·​ant | \ ˈdē-vē-ənt How to pronounce deviant (audio) \

Definition of deviant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: straying or deviating especially from an accepted norm (see norm sense 2) deviant behavior

deviant

noun
plural deviants

Definition of deviant (Entry 2 of 2)

: someone or something that deviates from a norm especially : a person who differs markedly (as in social adjustment or behavior) from what is considered normal or acceptable social/moral/sexual deviants Those who commit crimes also watch TV, go to the grocery store, and have their hair cut. Thus, while our stereotypes may suggest that there is a wide gulf between deviants and conventional people …, the behavior of deviants is often very conventional. — Paul C. Higgins and Richard R. Butler The theory thus centers on the question: What are the processes through which people are assigned a social identity as deviants by others and enter upon ongoing careers as deviants? — Mary Beth Norton et al. Acts of punishment thus designate who is in our community by clearly defining who is not in our community. Social solidarity is purchased through the punishment of deviants. — Mark Colvin

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Deviant & Deviate

Deviant and deviate share a common root (the Latin deviare “to wander off the road, swerve, deviate”) and have some similarities in meaning, but they differ in notable ways. Deviant has functioned in English as an adjective (since the 15th century) and as a noun (since the early 20th century), in each case with a sense that suggests a straying from an accepted norm or from what is considered standard behavior. In contrast to deviant’s socially prescriptive connotations, the verb deviate often implies a less judgmental sense of swerving from the usual way (as in “he never deviated from his routine of drinking coffee with breakfast.”)

Examples of deviant in a Sentence

Adjective a study of deviant behavior among criminals some studies show that many violent criminals begin exhibiting deviant behavior in early childhood
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective And, with each re-telling, the teeth get sharper, the snarling pre-meditation more deviant, the demonic grin wider. SI.com, "Luis Suarez: The Uruguayan Heel Who Never Bit Off More Than He Could Chew," 4 Oct. 2019 Taken together, the accounts paint a portrait of a woman whose life appeared to revolve around finding a way to satisfy Epstein’s every whim, no matter how deviant. Anna Schecter, NBC News, "How a British teen model was lured into Jeffrey Epstein's web," 20 Sep. 2019 Compared with the cast of last year’s repellent Suspiria, which emphasized what can only be called dykeyness (to the point that the actresses acted openly deviant, ravenous, and ghoulish) Olivia’s characterizations are firstly humane. Armond White, National Review, "The Vintage French Film Olivia Bests Today’s #Resistance Filmmakers," 21 Aug. 2019 Snowflake yeasts have their own way of purging themselves of deviant cells. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "The momentous transition to multicellular life may not have been so hard after all," 28 June 2018 Those are the questions Virginia Tech researchers Mattia Samory and Tanushree Mitra, who study deviant behavior in online discussions, tried to answer by analyzing a decade's worth of Reddit conspiracy talk. Emma Grey Ellis, WIRED, "Here’s One Way to Reform an Internet Conspiracy Theorist," 27 June 2018 At turns, depending on your decisions, the government response to the deviant AI crisis is a laughably drastic, society-crippling overreaction and/or a severe military underreaction to a major threat. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Detroit: Become Human review: Robotic in all of the wrong ways," 24 May 2018 The beast in Qiu Miaojin’s modernist novels is the consciousness in women that is aware of a deviant lust for women’s bodies. Ankita Chakraborty, Longreads, "A Crocodile In Paris: The Queer Classics of Qiu Miaojin," 8 June 2018 The game takes on a whole new dimension, as participants not only tackle traditional challenges but also try to sneak a deviant move by fellow players without apprehension. Josh Linkner, Detroit Free Press, "New Monopoly game created for cheaters, questionable behavior," 25 May 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Similarly, unmarried men were deemed narcissistic, deviant, and pathological. T.l. Andrews, Quartz, "More people are dying alone—and the global economy isn’t prepared for it," 21 Dec. 2019 There is a long tradition in theatre of casting men as women who are older, stricter, meaner, fatter, louder — in other words, deviant. Mia J. Merrill, sun-sentinel.com, "Why is a man starring in a play about legendary politician Bella Abzug?," 20 Nov. 2019 But then again, I and my family were not libeled as traitors, crooks, deviants, and imbeciles, and put in legal jeopardy for 22 months as the media and ex-Obama officials ginned up hoax after hoax. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Trump — or What, Exactly?," 27 Aug. 2019 Kosek said the fire-suppression campaign reflects a belief, deeply rooted in the Forest Service’s history, that people who set fires in forests are deviants and evildoers. Wendy Melillo, The Conversation, "Smokey (the) Bear is still keeping his watchful eye on America’s forests after 75 years on the job," 19 July 2019 The process of catching cheaters in video games is muddled in secrecy: the more developers say, the better equipped deviants are to cheat more efficiently next time around. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "League of Legends catches cheaters by making bots fight each other," 24 Oct. 2018 The streets of his New York are filled with rubble, leftover from a civil war between militant Christians and social deviants. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "The best Blade Runner anime would have nothing to do with Blade Runner," 2 Dec. 2018 Women’s magazines and news outlets depict women who vote Republican as deviants. Carrie Lukas, WSJ, "Check Your Progressive Privilege," 12 Dec. 2018 But for almost as long as they have been portrayed, they have been characterized as socially deviant or at least responsible for their kids' troubles. refinery29.com, "The Evolution Of The Single Mom In TV & Movies," 11 May 2018

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

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun

1923, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for deviant

Adjective

see deviate entry 1

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Time Traveler for deviant

Time Traveler

The first known use of deviant was in the 15th century

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Statistics for deviant

Cite this Entry

“Deviant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deviant. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for deviant

deviant

adjective
How to pronounce deviant (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of deviant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: different from what is considered to be normal or morally correct

deviant

noun

English Language Learners Definition of deviant (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who behaves in a way that most people consider to be not normal or morally correct

deviant

adjective
de·​vi·​ant | \ -ənt How to pronounce deviant (audio) \

Medical Definition of deviant

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: deviating especially from some accepted norm : characterized by deviation (as from a standard of conduct) socially deviant behavior

deviant

noun

Medical Definition of deviant (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that deviates from a norm especially : a person who differs markedly (as in social adjustment or sexual behavior) from what is considered normal for a group

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More from Merriam-Webster on deviant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for deviant

Spanish Central: Translation of deviant

Nglish: Translation of deviant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of deviant for Arabic Speakers

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