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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 perturbing
Historical Examples
  • The great box-plants, the great box-plants with their acrid, perturbing perfume!

  • Does the perturbing problem of an end occur to its dense brain?

  • The period was easily allowed to be not exact, because of perturbing planets.

    Pioneers of Science Oliver Lodge
  • So the perturbing power of such a mass on distant bodies is imperceptible.

    Pioneers of Science Oliver Lodge
  • Superficially, her beauty of irregularity was of all beauty the most perturbing and provocative.

    Angel Island Inez Haynes Gillmore
  • The slight electric current required has no perturbing effect on the clock.

    Inventors at Work George Iles
  • Julie's strange, perturbing presentiments were suddenly realized.

    A Woman of Thirty Honore de Balzac
  • But perturbing things were happening, within her and around her.

    A Mummer's Tale Anatole France
  • The perturbing influence of recent immigration must vex American life for many decades.

  • He treated the water, rotating with the earth once a day, somewhat as if it were a satellite acted on by perturbing forces.

    Pioneers of Science Oliver Lodge
British Dictionary definitions for perturbing


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 perturbing



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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