Definition of aberration in US English:



  • 1A departure from what is normal, usual, or expected, typically one that is unwelcome.

    ‘they described the outbreak of violence in the area as an aberration’
    • ‘In fact, the years between 1660 and 1685 were something of an aberration, a brief period of calm in an otherwise choppy sea.’
    • ‘However, if the most recent 50 years in the history of war have truly been dictated by ideological instead of resource motivations, the period would represent a unique aberration.’
    • ‘He was immediately followed to the microphone by a young woman who denounced him in strident terms; those aberrations were not Marxist-Leninist states, she cried, they were Stalinist!’
    • ‘The realtor said the difference between the two areas was probably just an aberration.’
    • ‘That was an aberration, one of those ironic blips that sport throws up from time to time.’
    • ‘Despite aberrations, we are still a by and large secular state.’
    • ‘Having grown up during the heady days of the late 1990s, they think the current period is an aberration.’
    • ‘What went on over that short period of time was an aberration.’
    • ‘The periods of activist government-at the turn of the twentieth century, in the 1930s, and in the 1960s and early 1970s-should be seen as aberrations.’
    • ‘Indeed it may well be that far from an aberration or even sinful distortion, the normal and proper condition of society, and even of the Church, is one of dispute and conflict.’
    • ‘This wasn't an aberration - last year was the aberration.’
    • ‘Any aberrations and highhandedness by security forces, must not, of course, go unpunished.’
    • ‘We just keep our eyes open to notice aberrations and changes, and believe me, there are plenty of them.’
    • ‘Slight eccentricities are curtailed with gentle mocking, and social aberrations are laughed off the set.’
    • ‘His experience may be transformed from an unfortunate aberration into official company policy.’
    • ‘If it dies it is because of our own errors, betrayals and aberrations.’
    • ‘The market will automatically correct any aberrations.’
    • ‘According to the revisionists, mechanical television was an aberration which is not to be taken seriously.’
    • ‘Mee added, ‘Although I do not know who is responsible for these incidents I hope that they were aberrations and shall not be seen again.’’
    • ‘Now, as foreign minister, he wants to correct the aberrations.’
    • ‘These aberrations are mainly caused by the proposed adoption of the 45% base rate approach.’
    anomaly, deviation, divergence, abnormality, irregularity, variation, digression, freak, rogue, rarity, quirk, oddity, curiosity, mistake
    abnormality, irregularity, eccentricity, deviation, transgression, straying, lapse, aberrancy
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Biology A characteristic that deviates from the normal type.
      ‘color aberrations’
      • ‘Chromosomal abnormalities included gonosomal aberrations in 5 cases.’
      • ‘The number of cells with chromosomal aberrations among 100 well-spread metaphases was recorded.’
      • ‘Chromosome aberrations were scored on 50 metaphase cells per clone.’
      • ‘These tests score either chromosomal structural aberrations at metaphase or micronuclei at interphase.’
      • ‘Aggressive and poorly responsive tumors are often characterized by multiple molecular cytogenetic aberrations.’
      • ‘These effects include the induction of chromosomal aberrations and sister chromatid exchange.’
      • ‘No consistent chromosome aberrations have been identified in basophilic leukemia.’
      • ‘No chromosome aberrations were found in human spermatozoa in vitro exposed to several chemicals, including dioxin.’
      • ‘Cells were classified with regard to the presence of abnormal metaphases and aberrations of any of the stages of mitosis.’
      • ‘Their presence in cells is a reflection of structural and/or numerical chromosomal aberrations arising during mitosis.’
      • ‘Bone marrow cells exhibited chromosome aberrations, aneuploidy, and changes in the mitotic index.’
      disorder, defect, disease, irregularity, instability, derangement, vagary
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Optics The failure of rays to converge at one focus because of limitations or defects in a lens or mirror.
      • ‘The focusing mirror preferably has an elliptical shape to reduce off-axis aberrations in the focused beam.’
      • ‘The slight asymmetry in both the radial and image axis direction indicates small aberrations in the microscope lens.’
      • ‘Corrective lenses, then, are prescribed to correct for aberrations, to adjust the focal point onto the retina or to compensate for other abnormalities.’
      • ‘He understood mathematically why a spherical mirror produces aberration.’
      • ‘We can also improve CD uniformity by reducing optical aberrations in the projection lens.’
      • ‘For diffraction-limited performance, we expect wavefront aberrations of better than 0.25 at all points in the image.’
      • ‘The problems with the microlens array design are low light throughput, non-uniform intensity foci, and lens aberrations.’
      • ‘To eliminate the residual aberration in the spherical lens, we need to increase the refractive index of the glass.’
      • ‘Wavefront technology now gives us the ability to map the higher optical aberrations of the eye accurately.’
      • ‘With this data they can program the adaptive optic system to deform the mirror to correct aberrations in the high-energy beam.’
      • ‘The design of the complete lens system is focused on controlling aberrations in the optical image.’
      • ‘Typical aberrations that can impact imaging performance include astigmatism, chromatic aberration, and spherical aberration.’
      • ‘Petzval is best remembered for his work on optical lenses and lens aberration done in the early 1840's.’
    3. 1.3Astronomy The apparent displacement of a celestial object from its true position, caused by the relative motion of the observer and the object.
      • ‘This was still an astronomical method, but Bradley used observations of the aberration of light from stars.’


Late 16th century: from Latin aberratio(n-), from aberrare ‘to stray’ (see aberrant).