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 The doctor, who specializes in gynecology, noted a gap in the area between the labia, a clear deviation from what should be seen in a child of that age. Shibani Mahtani, Washington Post, "In Philippines, a child alleges abuse by Catholic priest — and tests Vatican promise for global reckoning," 23 June 2020 Statistically, the deviation in the angular pattern is equivalent to flipping a coin 100 times and getting 66 heads, rather than the usual 50 or so. Quanta Magazine, "Growing Anomalies at the Large Hadron Collider Raise Hopes," 26 May 2020 Purists use a 1:1 ratio of sugar and fruit, but deviation is permissible. The Economist, "Home Entertainment Jam embodies resilience—and dogged optimism," 13 June 2020 The deviation has resulted in several reports of electric clocks running a few minutes fast on Maui. USA TODAY, "Theme parks, speedy clocks, rent relief: News from around our 50 states," 7 June 2020 For a fair coin, the odds of such a deviation are about 1 in 1,000. Quanta Magazine, "Growing Anomalies at the Large Hadron Collider Raise Hopes," 26 May 2020 This is the path that the United States has followed, with only occasional deviations and backslides, ever since. Andrew J. Bacevich, Harper's magazine, "The Old Normal," 2 Mar. 2020 With any deviation, remember to incorporate the thread that runs throughout the book: quality ingredients. Rebecca White, Dallas News, "Want to actually learn how to cook? Start with this iconic 1974 cookbook," 27 Feb. 2020 But in December 2015, NICHD’s Institutional Review Board, an ethics committee, suspended the study because of protocol deviations. Meredith Wadman, Science | AAAS, "How women at NIH’s research hospital lost chances at childbearing," 2 Apr. 2020

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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Time Traveler for deviation

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for deviation

Last Updated

29 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Deviation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for deviation


How to pronounce deviation (audio)

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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