de·​vi·​a·​tion | \ ˌdē-vē-ˈā-shən How to pronounce deviation (audio) \

Definition of deviation

: an act or instance of deviating: such as
a navigation : deflection of the needle of a compass caused by local magnetic influences (as in a ship)
b mathematics : the difference between a value in a frequency distribution and a fixed number (such as the mean)
c : departure from an established ideology or party line deviation from Communist orthodoxy
d : noticeable or marked departure from accepted norms (see norm sense 2) of behavior

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Other Words from deviation

deviationism \ ˌdē-​vē-​ˈā-​shə-​ˌni-​zəm How to pronounce deviationism (audio) \ noun
deviationist \ ˌdē-​vē-​ˈā-​sh(ə-​)nist How to pronounce deviationist (audio) \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Authorities track every vehicle in the region (paywall), collect DNA from residents, seize passports, and use technology to monitor individual routines—or deviations from them. Patrick Dehahn, Quartz, "More than 1 million Muslims are detained in China—but how did we get that number?," 4 July 2019 The omakase is a meandering, captivating exploration of Baja seafood through Japanese culinary eyes, with just a few deviations (the salmon, for example, comes from New Zealand). Naomi Tomky, Fortune, "One of Mexico City’s Hottest Restaurant Groups Fuses Mexican and Japanese Influences," 29 June 2019 The driver was also cited for failure to stop at a stop sign, unsafe lane deviation, and violating probation. Bob Dohr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Greenfield, Greendale, Hales Corners police reports: Bank refused to deposit million-dollar bill," 31 Jan. 2018 The game’s new conventional wisdom is unassailable, backed by raw data and cold, hard numbers, resulting in less deviation in playing styles. Globe Staff,, "You get a whiff of failure when boiling down baseball numbers," 22 June 2019 The Maplewood City Council approved a 25-point plan to make the troubled Myth Live music venue safer, warning owners that any deviation from the plan could result in being shut down. Deanna Weniger, Twin Cities, "Maplewood City Council approves safety plan for Myth Live concert venue," 22 June 2019 And perhaps in the biggest deviation from the zombie playbook, Ophiocordyceps unilateralis don’t seem to invade the brain. Jennifer Lu, National Geographic, "How a parasitic fungus turns ants into 'zombies'," 18 Apr. 2019 Over the years, Nxivm’s curriculums provided the philosophical framework for a group in which members were taught to substitute Mr. Raniere’s principles for their own and see deviation from his teachings as heresy. Colin Moynihan, New York Times, "Nxivm: How a Sex Cult Leader Seduced and Programmed His Followers," 14 June 2019 If that’s too great a leap back, Congress should reaffirm the Fed’s legal responsibility for zero inflation or at least require the Fed to seek explicit legislative permission for sustained deviations from that goal. Amar Bhidé, WSJ, "Congress Should Set the Fed’s Inflation Target—Ideally at Zero," 6 Nov. 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for deviation

see deviate entry 1

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Statistics for deviation

Last Updated

16 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for deviation

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

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More Definitions for deviation



English Language Learners Definition of deviation

: an action, behavior, or condition that is different from what is usual or expected
technical : the difference between the average of a group of numbers and a particular number in that group


de·​vi·​a·​tion | \ ˌdē-vē-ˈā-shən How to pronounce deviation (audio) \

Medical Definition of deviation

: an act or instance of diverging from an established way or in a new direction: as
a : evolutionary differentiation involving interpolation of new stages in the ancestral pattern of morphogenesis
b : noticeable or marked departure from accepted norms of behavior

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Comments on deviation

What made you want to look up deviation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

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