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  1. the act of departing from the right, normal, or usual course.
  2. the act of deviating from the ordinary, usual, or normal type.
  3. deviation from truth or moral rectitude.
  4. mental irregularity or disorder, especially of a minor or temporary nature; lapse from a sound mental state.
  5. Astronomy. apparent displacement of a heavenly body, owing to the motion of the earth in its orbit.
  6. Optics. any disturbance of the rays of a pencil of light such that they can no longer be brought to a sharp focus or form a clear image.
  7. Photography. a defect in a camera lens or lens system, due to flaws in design, material, or construction, that can distort the image.

Origin of aberration

1585–95; < Latin aberrātiōn- (stem of aberrātiō), equivalent to aberrāt(us), past participle of aberrāre (see aberrant) + -iōn- -ion
Related formsab·er·ra·tion·al, adjective

Synonyms for aberration

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for aberration


  1. deviation from what is normal, expected, or usual
  2. departure from truth, morality, etc
  3. a lapse in control of one's mental faculties
  4. optics a defect in a lens or mirror that causes the formation of either a distorted image or one with coloured fringesSee also spherical aberration, chromatic aberration
  5. astronomy the apparent displacement of a celestial body due to the finite speed of light and the motion of the observer with the earth
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

Word Origin and History for aberration

1590s, "a wandering, straying," from Latin aberrationem (nominative aberratio) "a wandering," noun of action from past participle stem of aberrare "to wander out of the way, lose the way, go astray," from ab- "away" (see ab-) + errare "to wander" (see err). Meaning "deviation from the normal type" first attested 1846.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

aberration in Medicine


  1. A departure from the normal or typical.
  2. A psychological disorder or abnormal alteration in one's mental state.
  3. A defect of focus, such as blurring in an image.
  4. An imperfect image caused by a physical defect in an optical element, as in a lens.
  5. A deviation in the normal genetic structure or number of chromosomes in an organism.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

aberration in Science


  1. A deviation in the normal structure or number of chromosomes in an organism.
  2. A defect in a lens or mirror that prevents light rays from being focused at a single point and results in a distorted or blurred image.♦ Aberration that results in distortion of color is called chromatic aberration.♦ Aberration that is caused by imperfections in the surface or shape of a spherical mirror or lens is called spherical aberration. See also astigmatism coma2.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.