per·​turb | \ pər-ˈtərb How to pronounce perturb (audio) \
perturbed; perturbing; perturbs

Definition of perturb

transitive verb

1 : to cause to be worried or upset : disquiet, unsettle Half way down the next flight, she smiled to think that a char-woman's stare should so perturb her.— Edith Wharton The crowd didn't seem to perturb them in the slightest …— Nick Hornby
2 : to throw into confusion : disorder perturbing the social order
3 : to cause to experience a perturbation — see perturbation sense 2 Newton finally realized that the planetary orbits would be only approximate ellipses, for the mutual attractions of the planets would perturb their paths.— Owen Gingerich

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Other Words from perturb

perturbable \ pər-​ˈtər-​bə-​bəl How to pronounce perturbable (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for perturb

discompose, disquiet, disturb, perturb, agitate, upset, fluster mean to destroy capacity for collected thought or decisive action. discompose implies some degree of loss of self-control or self-confidence especially through emotional stress. discomposed by the loss of his beloved wife disquiet suggests loss of sense of security or peace of mind. the disquieting news of factories closing disturb implies interference with one's mental processes caused by worry, perplexity, or interruption. the discrepancy in accounts disturbed me perturb implies deep disturbance of mind and emotions. perturbed by her husband's strange behavior agitate suggests obvious external signs of nervous or emotional excitement. in his agitated state we could see he was unable to work upset implies the disturbance of normal or habitual functioning by disappointment, distress, or grief. the family's constant bickering upsets the youngest child fluster suggests bewildered agitation. his declaration of love completely flustered her

Did You Know?

With its per- prefix, perturb meant originally "thoroughly upset", though today the word has lost most of its intense edge. Perturb and perturbation are often used by scientists, usually when speaking of a change in their data indicating that something has affected some normal process. When someone is referred to as imperturbable, it means he or she manages to remain calm through the most trying experiences.

Examples of perturb in a Sentence

It perturbed him that his son was thinking about leaving school. the caller's strange remark perturbed me enough to keep me awake that night

Recent Examples on the Web

And the internet was beyond perturbed by his omnipresence. Ineye Komonibo, Marie Claire, "Bran Stark Was Super Creepy In the Premiere of 'Game of Thrones'," 15 Apr. 2019 He was clearly perturbed with the closed-door, rushed process that had produced the GOP’s repeal plans. Dylan Scott, Vox, "I’ll never forget watching John McCain vote down Obamacare repeal," 26 Aug. 2018 According to the report, the queen was particularly perturbed by episode 9 of season 2, which depicts a young Prince Charles’s fraught time at boarding school. Dan Barna, Glamour, "Queen Elizabeth Reportedly Wasn't Happy With This Scene in Season 2 of The Crown," 25 Sep. 2018 The most heated moment of the debate, however, took place when Ellis got perturbed by Andres not looking up at him while speaking. Alex Pappas, Fox News, "Ex-Manafort associate Rick Gates returns to stand as angry Manafort trial judge lashes out at prosecutor," 7 Aug. 2018 The fashion set was perturbed when Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey sent a fleet of equestrian-like blankets down the brand's Fall 2014 runway. Sarah Bray, ELLE Decor, "The Home Accessory Sent Down The Burberry Runway," 18 Feb. 2014 Despite Evertonians becoming increasingly perturbed at Allardyce's defensive tactics, the 63-year-old opted to shift the blame game from his own misgivings and claim that his senior stars weren't showing their best form or their talents., "Sam Allardyce Risks Alienating Everton Stars Over 'No Value for Money' Claims," 27 Feb. 2018 But privacy groups are perturbed by drone monitoring—already used elsewhere in searches and surveillance. Gregory Barber, WIRED, "Crime Fighting Gets High-Tech Advances," 3 June 2018 Largely, however, health care companies—and drug makers specifically—don’t seem particularly perturbed by the tough talk. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "Brainstorm Health: Trump Drug Price Prediction, Sanofi's Roseanne Subtweet, Healthy Life Expectancy," 30 May 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for perturb

Middle English, from Middle French perturber, from Latin perturbare to throw into confusion, from per- + turbare to disturb — more at turbid

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Statistics for perturb

Last Updated

20 May 2019

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Time Traveler for perturb

The first known use of perturb was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for perturb



English Language Learners Definition of perturb

: to cause (someone) to be worried or upset


per·​turb | \ pər-ˈtərb How to pronounce perturb (audio) \
perturbed; perturbing

Kids Definition of perturb

: to disturb in mind : trouble greatly

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More from Merriam-Webster on perturb

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with perturb

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for perturb

Spanish Central: Translation of perturb

Nglish: Translation of perturb for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of perturb for Arabic Speakers

Comments on perturb

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a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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