Definition of perturb in English:



  • 1Make (someone) anxious or unsettled.

    ‘they were perturbed by her capricious behaviour’
    [with object and clause] ‘he was perturbed that his bleeper wouldn't work’
    • ‘She was perturbed by my independent streak, my take it or leave it attitude and my utter inability to find suitable companionship.’
    • ‘However, neither Clive or Christine were perturbed by this.’
    • ‘He said local residents were perturbed by this and felt there was the potential for the emergency services to get confused.’
    • ‘But there was something about the film that perturbed me from the offset, and fairly swiftly I realised what it was.’
    • ‘There are, probably, two principal concerns that will be perturbing the potential visitor.’
    • ‘What perturbs me is how we have come to accept all this.’
    • ‘She was not perturbed by the low attendance, insisting that most people on the street supported her position.’
    • ‘Much of the audience is perturbed by the portrayal here, but the setting quickly changes to the next day at school.’
    • ‘I think it's her sleeve that perturbs me most, aside from the fact that the entire dress bores me fiercely.’
    • ‘He is also perturbed by the fact that no meaningful debate is being made on this illogical act of film censorship.’
    • ‘What perturbs me though is the complete lack of value I have received from my taxes, that I have faithfully paid towards public health over the years.’
    • ‘How many of you are perturbed if no-one posts anything in your comments box against a post you'd have liked some feedback on?’
    • ‘He was understandably perturbed, and scratched the gold surface off with a knife to show me how easy it was to tell it was fake.’
    • ‘She was not perturbed because she knew the warden called in every day.’
    • ‘We are perturbed by the deteriorating condition on the health front.’
    • ‘Fifteen years later when I revisited the issue, I was still perturbed.’
    • ‘We are perturbed by the current strike by council workers and feel the best way out of the problem would be to return to work.’
    • ‘Some conservative voters are perturbed that the couple, married in 1998, appear to lead separate lives.’
    • ‘I was particularly perturbed because, in the accompanying brochure, the drink was bright blue.’
    • ‘He's also perturbed by the way his daughters' peers dress.’
    worry, upset, unsettle, disturb, concern, trouble, make anxious, make uneasy, make fretful, disquiet
    discompose, disconcert, discomfit, unnerve, alarm, bother, distress, dismay, gnaw at, agitate, fluster, ruffle, discountenance, exercise
    rattle, faze
    upset, worried, unsettled, disturbed, concerned, troubled, anxious, ill at ease, uneasy, fretful, disquieted
    disconcerted, discomposed, unnerved, alarmed, bothered, distressed, dismayed, apprehensive, nervous, restless, agitated, flustered, ruffled, shaken, flurried, discountenanced, uncomfortable
    twitchy, rattled, fazed, discombobulated
    View synonyms
  • 2Subject (a system, moving object, or process) to an influence tending to alter its normal or regular state or path.

    ‘nuclear weapons could be used to perturb the orbit of an asteroid’
    • ‘But how do mass extinctions perturb these systems in the first place?’
    • ‘A general concern with AFM imaging of living cells is that the imaging process in some way perturbs the cells.’
    • ‘External factors that could perturb development include temperature and environmental chemicals.’
    • ‘The challenge is to perturb the system in a cell specific way to examine the behavioral consequences.’
    • ‘We evaluate the sensitivity of the system's perfect adaptation ability by perturbing the perfect adaptation conditions.’
    • ‘It will stay there if your hand is perfectly stable and nothing perturbs the equilibrium.’
    • ‘In this case, inverting one element at a time might perturb its function whereas inverting them both at once might be less detrimental.’
    • ‘The future of experiments to test the behavioral role of neurons in vertebrates lies in using reverse genetic tools to perturb function.’
    • ‘By their calculations, it wouldn't take much to perturb our own system, either.’
    • ‘It also suggests magnetic fields as a useful tool for perturbing and investigating cellular processes that involve large biomolecular assemblies.’
    • ‘It was therefore predicted that another more distant planet must be perturbing Uranus' orbit.’
    • ‘In this way, we see that the two systems engage in an exchange, a feedback loop of information and effect, which serves to further change or perturb each system.’
    • ‘The failure of a laboratory's computer system has the potential to disrupt work flow, compromise business interests, and delay or perturb patient care.’
    • ‘Drugs perturb the system through increasing or decreasing transmission or transmitter levels, or up or down regulating receptor populations.’
    • ‘If we perturb a system that has a rational frequency ratio, then it can easily be shifted into a chaotic situation with irrational frequencies.’
    • ‘Did you know that pressure from sunlight alone is sufficient to perturb the orbit of a satellite travelling in the solar system?’
    • ‘Many suggest that global warming will perturb the climate system so much as to even initiate an Ice Age.’
    • ‘If their contributions to behavior are understood then one should be able to predictably alter the behavior by perturbing the activity of the neurons.’
    • ‘A fieldworker can learn more from perturbing the system than from pretending to be an invisible fly on the wall.’
    • ‘It could change the heating structure of the atmosphere and perturb the climate system in ways we don't understand now.’


Late Middle English: from Old French pertourber, from Latin perturbare, from per- completely + turbare disturb.