per·​tur·​ba·​tion | \ ˌpər-tər-ˈbā-shən How to pronounce perturbation (audio) , 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from perturbation

perturbational \ ˌpər-​tər-​ˈbā-​shnəl How to pronounce perturbation (audio) , -​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 what, when, and where of these immunological assaults are all crucial to the body’s ability to waylay disease; any perturbation threatens to set the whole system askew. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, "Some People’s Bodies Aren’t Set Up for Vaccines," 15 Apr. 2021 In 2019, a new generation of researchers identified a way to improve just how stabilizing those radio waves could be, boosting them using tiny temperature fluctuations called perturbations. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Radio Wave Breakthrough Helps Stabilize Fusion Reactions," 7 May 2020 That was long enough for the spacecraft to have recorded any faint perturbations a faraway planet could induce in Saturn’s motion around the sun. Lee Billings, Scientific American, "Looking for Planet Nine, Astronomers Gaze into the Abyss," 22 Mar. 2018 With any change in leadership, there will be obviously some minor perturbations. CBS News, "Transcript: Robert Ashley talks with Michael Morell on "Intelligence Matters"," 15 Jan. 2020 Evidence is accumulating that the gut microbiome, and perturbations in it, can affect behavior—at least in mice. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Are you a mouse who can’t let go of fear? Your microbiome might be the problem," 27 Oct. 2019 In chaotic systems, small perturbations can have large and seemingly unpredictable effects, as in the archetypical example of a butterfly’s flapping wings influencing the weather thousands of miles away. Quanta Magazine, "A Twisted Path to Equation-Free Prediction," 13 Oct. 2015 This technology would resemble the methods that political scientists and intelligence agencies use to build computational models of societies undergoing perturbations like food crises and epidemics. Wired Opinion, WIRED, "AI Algorithms Need FDA-Style Drug Trials," 15 Aug. 2019 That cooling perturbation would leave the southern hemisphere in atmospheric waves—generating untold ripple effects around the planet. Craig Welch, National Geographic, "How Amazon forest loss may affect water—and climate—far away," 27 Aug. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of perturbation

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about perturbation

Time Traveler for perturbation

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for perturbation

Last Updated

21 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Perturbation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for perturbation



English Language Learners Definition of perturbation

technical : a change in the normal state or regular movement of something
formal : the state of being worried or upset

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on perturbation

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for perturbation

Britannica English: Translation of perturbation for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about perturbation

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!