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[awr-ee-uh n-tey-shuh n, -en-, ohr-] /ˌɔr i ənˈteɪ ʃən, -ɛn-, ˌoʊr-/
the act or process of orienting.
the state of being oriented.
an introduction, as to guide one in adjusting to new surroundings, employment, activity, or the like:
New employees receive two days of orientation.
Psychology, Psychiatry. the ability to locate oneself in one's environment with reference to time, place, and people.
one's position in relation to true north, to points on the compass, or to a specific place or object.
the ascertainment of one's true position, as in a novel situation, with respect to attitudes, judgments, etc.
  1. the relative positions of certain atoms or groups, especially in aromatic compounds.
  2. the determination of the position of substituted atoms or groups in a compound.
Origin of orientation
First recorded in 1830-40; orientate + -ion
Related forms
orientative, adjective
nonorientation, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for orientation
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He knew the first job was to learn the pattern of the ducts, and orientation was a problem.

    Gold in the Sky Alan Edward Nourse
  • Finally, satisfied with the ship's orientation, the autopilot rested.

    Pushbutton War Joseph P. Martino
  • A first attempt at orientation in this chaos leads readily to a division into three groups.

  • orientation conditioned by individual organization, 48;Personal, 270.

  • It shows itself in a deplorable lack of orientation as compared with our lads of the same relative standing.

    Germany and the Germans Price Collier
British Dictionary definitions for orientation


the act or process of orienting or the state of being oriented
position or positioning with relation to the points of the compass or other specific directions
the adjustment or alignment of oneself or one's ideas to surroundings or circumstances
(mainly US & Canadian) Also called orientation course
  1. a course, programme, lecture, etc, introducing a new situation or environment
  2. (as modifier): an orientation talk
(psychol) the knowledge of one's own temporal, social, and practical circumstances in life
basic beliefs or preferences: sexual orientation
(biology) the change in position of the whole or part of an organism in response to a stimulus, such as light
(chem) the relative dispositions of atoms, ions, or groups in molecules or crystals
the siting of a church on an east-west axis, usually with the altar at the E end
Derived Forms
orientational, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for orientation

1839, originally "arrangement of a building, etc., to face east or any other specified direction," noun of action from orient (v.). Sense of "action of determining one's bearings" is from 1868. Meaning "introduction to a situation" is from 1942.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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orientation in Medicine

orientation o·ri·en·ta·tion (ôr'ē-ěn-tā'shən, -ən-)

  1. The act of orienting or the state of being oriented.

  2. Location or position relative to the points of the compass.

  3. The relative position of one atom with respect to another to which it is connected.

  4. Sexual orientation.

  5. Introductory instruction concerning a new situation.

  6. Awareness of the objective world in relation to one's self.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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