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[per-turb] /pərˈtɜrb/
verb (used with object)
to disturb or disquiet greatly in mind; agitate.
to throw into great disorder; derange.
Astronomy. to cause perturbation in the orbit of (a celestial body).
Origin of perturb
1325-75; Middle English perturben (< Old French perturber) < Latin perturbāre to throw into confusion, equivalent to per- per- + turbāre to disturb; see turbid
Related forms
perturbable, adjective
perturbability, noun
[pur-ter-bey-shuh s] /ˌpɜr tərˈbeɪ ʃəs/ (Show IPA),
[per-tur-bid-lee] /pərˈtɜr bɪd li/ (Show IPA),
perturbedness, noun
perturber, perturbator
[pur-ter-bey-ter] /ˈpɜr tərˌbeɪ tər/ (Show IPA),
perturbingly, adverb
perturbment, noun
nonperturbable, adjective
nonperturbing, adjective
unperturbable, adjective
unperturbed, adjective
unperturbing, adjective
1. trouble. 2. confuse, addle, muddle.
1. pacify. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for perturb
Historical Examples
  • “Do not perturb yourself, I beg of you,” she said in a sympathetic voice.

    The Stretton Street Affair William Le Queux
  • The only consequence of their smallness is their inability to perturb others.

    Pioneers of Science Oliver Lodge
  • What, then, are the things that oppress127 us and perturb us?

  • Enmity, unpleasant and ominous as it may be, is not to perturb or move you.

  • But the flapping of feudal wings did not perturb this veteran hawk of the hills.

    The Red Debt

    Everett MacDonald
  • Believe me, my dear, it grieves me to so 225 perturb you; but–er–love must have its way, you know.

    Into the Primitive Robert Ames Bennet
  • And how, indeed, beyond all any, that stormy and perturb'd age!

    Complete Prose Works Walt Whitman
  • The information did not perturb her, and her coolness was a challenge.

    Smoke Bellew Jack London
  • They are perturbed by the sun, of course, but they also perturb each other, and Jupiter is far from spherical.

    Pioneers of Science Oliver Lodge
  • They are themselves perturbed plentifully, but they perturb nothing; hence we learn that their mass is small.

    Pioneers of Science Oliver Lodge
British Dictionary definitions for perturb


verb (transitive; often passive)
to disturb the composure of; trouble
to throw into disorder
(physics, astronomy) to cause (a planet, electron, etc) to undergo a perturbation
Derived Forms
perturbable, adjective
perturbably, adverb
perturbing, adjective
perturbingly, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Old French pertourber, from Latin perturbāre to confuse, from per- (intensive) + turbāre to agitate, from turba confusion
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 perturb

late 14c., from Old French perturber "disturb, confuse" (14c.) and directly from Latin perturbare "to confuse, disorder, disturb," especially of states of the mind, from per- "through" (see per) + turbare "disturb, confuse," from turba "turmoil, crowd" (see turbid). Related: Perturbed; perturbing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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