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[out-lahy-er] /ˈaʊtˌlaɪ ər/
something that lies outside the main body or group that it is a part of, as a cow far from the rest of the herd, or a distant island belonging to a cluster of islands:
The small factory was an outlier, and unproductive, so the corporation sold it off to private owners who were able to make it profitable.
someone who stands apart from others of his or her group, as by differing behavior, beliefs, or religious practices:
scientists who are outliers in their views on climate change.
  1. an observation that is well outside of the expected range of values in a study or experiment, and which is often discarded from the data set:
    Experience with a variety of data-reduction problems has led to several strategies for dealing with outliers in data sets.
  2. a person whose abilities, achievements, etc., lie outside the range of statistical probability.
Geology. a part of a formation left detached through the removal of surrounding parts by erosion.
Compare inlier.
Obsolete. a person residing outside the place of his or her business, duty, etc.
Origin of outlier
First recorded in 1600-10; out- + lier Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for outliers
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I leaned forward until my face was hardly a foot from the outliers, and these I learned to know as individuals.

    Edge of the Jungle William Beebe
  • I strongly recommend your purchasing these outliers in large quantities.

    Mammon and Co. E. F. Benson
  • Possibly the "lowes" outliers of the partially denuded glacial "drift."

  • Just opposite, there are buttes, outliers of cliffs to the left.

  • There are outliers of the stock as far south as the southern parts of Oregon.

    Opuscula Robert Gordon Latham
British Dictionary definitions for outliers


an outcrop of rocks that is entirely surrounded by older rocks
a person, thing, or part situated away from a main or related body
a person who lives away from his place of work, duty, etc
(statistics) a point in a sample widely separated from the main cluster of points in the sample See scatter diagram
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 outliers



c.1600, "stone quarried and removed but left unused," from out + lie (v.2). Transferred meaning "outsider" is recorded from 1680s; "anything detached from its main body" is from 1849; geological sense is from 1833.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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