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

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Other Words from perturbation

perturbational \ ˌpər-​tər-​ˈbā-​shnəl How to pronounce perturbational (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 atmosphere is too complicated, too fragile, too sensitive to small perturbations, to submit to the equations with the precision of planets or stars. Hannah Fry, The New Yorker, "Why Weather Forecasting Keeps Getting Better," 24 June 2019 And the brain is an especially noisy system, so there would be many such perturbations. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Rat brains provide even more evidence our brains operate near tipping point," 7 June 2019 Banning lane changing in heavy traffic can also improve flow by reducing unnecessary perturbations. Eugenia Cheng, WSJ, "Going With the Flow of Traffic," 9 Nov. 2018 In the real world, this will always happen, because perturbations are always present—and this is why laminar flows are much less common in everyday experience than turbulence. Lee Phillips, Ars Technica, "Turbulence, the oldest unsolved problem in physics," 10 Oct. 2018 On the backside of the moon there had been some venting--some perturbations unknown to us. Jennifer Bogo, Popular Mechanics, "The Oral History of Apollo 11," 17 July 2018 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 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

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on perturbation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with perturbation

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

Comments on perturbation

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one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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