de·​vi·​a·​tion ˌdē-vē-ˈā-shən How to pronounce deviation (audio)
: an act or instance of deviating: such as
navigation : deflection of the needle of a compass caused by local magnetic influences (as in a ship)
mathematics : the difference between a value in a frequency distribution and a fixed number (such as the mean)
: departure from an established ideology or party line
deviation from Communist orthodoxy
: noticeable or marked departure from accepted norms (see norm sense 2) of behavior
deviationist noun or adjective

Examples of deviation in a Sentence

There have been slight deviations in the satellite's orbit. Having juice instead of coffee was a deviation from his usual routine. The pattern's deviation from the norm is significant.
Recent Examples on the Web There may be slight deviations from the podcast audio. Amanda Luberto, The Arizona Republic, 17 Apr. 2024 Future research will be needed to clarify this question, as well as deviations from the simple model of a single, freely mixing population. Discover Magazine, 8 Apr. 2024 As inflation falls to target, statistically, such deviations can be expected. Robert Barone, Forbes, 30 Mar. 2024 The hospital and University of Utah didn’t respond to questions about whether patients are informed in writing about any deviations from the standard of care. Megan Rose, ProPublica, 6 Mar. 2024 There was no room for deviation: last fall, Shuyi was fined seven thousand dollars for ad-libbing a minute past his fifteen-minute script. Chang Che, The New Yorker, 26 Mar. 2024 These deviations are small but significant, and understanding them could unlock insights into the solar interior. Catherine Duncan, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Mar. 2024 But even with these various smart deviations from the source material, the show’s first season is middling drama at best. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 9 Mar. 2024 The very end of Part Two hints at potentially promising deviation from the books, showing a betrayed-looking Chani abandoning Paul’s army, setting up a potentially more antagonistic relationship between the lovers in Part Three. James Hibberd, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Mar. 2024

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

Word History


see deviate entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of deviation was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near deviation

Cite this Entry

“Deviation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


de·​vi·​a·​tion ˌdē-vē-ˈā-shən How to pronounce deviation (audio)
: an act or instance of deviating: as
: the difference found by subtracting some fixed number (as the arithmetic mean of a series of statistical data) from any item of the series
: noticeable difference from accepted standards (as of behavior or morals)

Medical Definition


de·​vi·​a·​tion ˌdē-vē-ˈā-shən How to pronounce deviation (audio)
: an act or instance of diverging from an established way or in a new direction: as
: evolutionary differentiation involving interpolation of new stages in the ancestral pattern of morphogenesis
: noticeable or marked departure from accepted norms of behavior

More from Merriam-Webster on deviation

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