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ab·​er·​rant a-ˈber-ənt How to pronounce aberrant (audio)
ˈa-bə-rənt How to pronounce aberrant (audio)
: deviating from the usual or natural type : atypical, abnormal
aberrant behavior
I don't intend to suggest that his psychology was in some way aberrant or neurotic …Michael Chabon
: straying from the right or normal way
aberrant misfits
a-ˈber-ən(t)s How to pronounce aberrant (audio)
ˈa-bə-rən(t)s How to pronounce aberrant (audio)
aberrantly adverb


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: a group, individual, or structure that is not normal or typical : an aberrant group, individual, or structure
: a person whose behavior departs substantially from the standard

Did you know?

Something aberrant has wandered away from the usual path or form. The word is generally used in a negative way; aberrant behavior, for example, may be a symptom of other problems. But the discovery of an aberrant variety of a species can be exciting news to a biologist, and identifying an aberrant gene has led the way to new treatments for diseases.

Examples of aberrant in a Sentence

Adjective The stones, silvered in the moon's aberrant light, shone like spectral tombs, and the figures, which Dalgliesh knew were Helena, Lettie and the Bostocks, became discarnate shapes disappearing into the darkness. P. D. James, The Private Patient, 2008
… as if he had happily spied an aberrant crocus amid the wintry gray scene of Presidential impeachment. Francis X. Clines, New York Times, 8 Jan. 1999
… at the brief and aberrant moment in time when it was possible to believe that America owed its great place in the world to its military and moral virtue rather than to the weight of its currency. Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, March 1992
a year of aberrant weather—record rainfall in the summer, record heat in the autumn aberrant behavior can be a sign of rabies in a wild animal
Recent Examples on the Web
In a report published today in Science Translational Medicine, Pereira and his colleagues describe their first-in-human experience using the platform to guide treatment for 32 people with strokes, artery hardening, and various other conditions arising from aberrant blood vessels in the brain. IEEE Spectrum, 15 May 2024 The issue of an artificial character seeming sinister or aberrant is familiar to designers of toys and games. Patrick House, The New Yorker, 19 Mar. 2024 Trump would also face a Congress less inclined to impose such constraints, having established ideological mastery of the Republican Party, whose old-line elites can no longer claim that his agenda is aberrant and must be resisted. Peter D. Feaver, Foreign Affairs, 19 Feb. 2024 Fear of God briefs Custom Stamp: Chances are, if you were born before 1980, your penmanship is aberrant. Kristen Bateman, Vogue, 18 Dec. 2023 See all Example Sentences for aberrant 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'aberrant.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



borrowed from Latin aberrant-, aberrans, present participle of aberrāre "to wander away, stray, go wrong," from ab- ab- + errāre "to wander, drift, be in error" — more at err


noun derivative of aberrant entry 1

First Known Use


circa 1536, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1840, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of aberrant was circa 1536

Dictionary Entries Near aberrant

Cite this Entry

“Aberrant.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aberrant. Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


: being different from the usual or natural type

Medical Definition


ab·​er·​rant a-ˈber-ənt How to pronounce aberrant (audio) ə-; ˈab-ə-rənt How to pronounce aberrant (audio)
: straying from the right or normal way
aberrant behavior
: deviating from the usual or natural type : atypical sense 1
aberrant salivary tissue

More from Merriam-Webster on aberrant

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