1

deviant

adjective de·vi·ant \ -ənt \
Updated on: 9 Nov 2017

Definition of deviant

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

Examples of deviant in a Sentence

  1. a study of deviant behavior among criminals

  2. some studies show that many violent criminals begin exhibiting deviant behavior in early childhood

Recent Examples of deviant from the Web

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.

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.”)

Origin and Etymology of deviant


2

deviant

noun de·vi·ant \ ˈdē-vē-ənt \

Definition of deviant

plural deviants
: 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

Recent Examples of deviant from the Web

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.

First Known Use of deviant

1923


Medical Dictionary

1

deviant

adjective de·vi·ant \ -ənt \

medical Definition of deviant

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

2

deviant

noun

medical Definition of deviant

: 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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