per·​tur·​ba·​tion | \ˌpər-tər-ˈbā-shən, ˌpər-ˌtər-\

Definition of perturbation 

1 : the action of perturbing : the state of being perturbed

2 : a disturbance of motion, course, arrangement, or state of equilibrium especially : a disturbance of the regular and usually elliptical course of motion of a celestial body that is produced by some force additional to that which causes its regular motion

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Other Words from perturbation

perturbational \ ˌpər-​tər-​ˈbā-​shnəl , -​shə-​nᵊl, ˌpər-​ˌtər-​ \ adjective

Examples of perturbation in a Sentence

a perturbation in the planet's orbit in her perturbation she kept calling her son, a freshman, to see if everything was all right at college

Recent Examples on the Web

The system has determined that’s a spot that wouldn’t hold up well to perturbations. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Robots Can't Hold Stuff Very Well. But You Can Help," 13 July 2018 The perturbation, in turn, excited and inhibited the neurons' partner cells in connected regions, in a chain reverberating across the cortex, until the activity died out. Christof Koch, Scientific American, "What Is Consciousness?," 8 May 2018 Calculating perturbations for many different grasps on just one spray bottle takes a whole lot of brain power. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Robots Can't Hold Stuff Very Well. But You Can Help," 13 July 2018 These either leave organic traces in the brain that, though not always accessible before a patient’s death, are characteristic of the condition in question, or cause recognisable perturbations of things such as electroencephalograms. The Economist, "A big collaboration is trying to understand diseases of the psyche," 28 June 2018 Jia used measurements from Galileo’s magnetometer to seek out small perturbations in the magnetic field during the closest flyby. Ramin Skibba, Scientific American, "Decades-Old Data Unveils Plumes Spewing from Europa," 14 May 2018 Even the smallest perturbation to a complex system (like the weather, the economy or just about anything else) can touch off a concatenation of events that leads to a dramatically divergent future. Natalie Wolchover, WIRED, "Machine Learning’s ‘Amazing’ Ability to Predict Chaos," 21 Apr. 2018 If a perturbation were to jostle this fluid, a gravity wave would result. Matthew Cappucci, Washington Post, "Wicked cool wave clouds crash over Boston area," 6 Apr. 2018 Dr Cuk’s explanation relies on another form of orbital perturbation called an evection. The Economist, "Saturn’s rings and several of its moons may be recent creations," 22 Mar. 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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English Language Learners Definition of perturbation

: a change in the normal state or regular movement of something

: the state of being worried or upset

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Comments on perturbation

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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