- mutual relation of two or more things, parts, etc.: Studies find a positive correlation between severity of illness and nutritional status of the patients.
- the act of correlating or state of being correlated.
- Statistics. the degree to which two or more attributes or measurements on the same group of elements show a tendency to vary together.
- Physiology. the interdependence or reciprocal relations of organs or functions.
- Geology. the demonstrable equivalence, in age or lithology, of two or more stratigraphic units, as formations or members of such.
Origin of correlation
Correlation has been in the English language since the 16th century. Its French cousin, corrélation, comes from Latin which literally means “restoring things together.” In English, we use it to describe a mutual relation between two things. Correlation is not to be confused with the word corollary, which is derived from an entirely different Latin root, corrollārium, a kind of ancient Roman gratuity, a “little something extra.”
In the 19th century, scholars of various disciplines adopted the term correlation to their specific areas of interest. In statistics, a correlation between two variables can be described as a numerical value. The words “positive,” “negative,” “strong,” and “direct” are often used as modifiers before correlation in this context. In the fields of biology and geology, researchers use correlation to help understand and describe various features of physiology and rock formations respectively. With the original meaning still in popular use, correlation is not just for mathematicians and scientists. Just be aware that if you casually mention correlation (in the general sense) to math enthusiasts, their initial responses might be to visualize a graph.
—Pearson correlation coefficient: a value between -1 and +1 that represents the relationship between two variables.
- "There's not a direct correlation between poverty and violence and conflict and terrorism."-Barack Obama in Strasbourg Town Hall American Rhetoric (delivered April 3, 2009)
- "Researchers compute correlation coefficients when they want to know how two variables are related to each other."-Timothy C. Urdan Statistics in Plain English (2005)
- "By the expression ‘Correlation of the Organs,’ is understood the state of mutual dependence of the organs, after their division of labor has been brought about by the process of evolution; each has its own particular function to perform, but the fulfilment of this function is not sufficient for its existence, since rather it would be unable to perform its own function without the aid it derives from the other organs."-Thomas H. Montgomery, Jr. Organic Variation as a Criterion of Development Journal of Morphology, Vol. XII (1897)
- "From correlation of the rock sequences exposed at different localities, geologists can reconstruct a geologic history over a billion years long."-Frank Press, et. al Understanding Earth (2004)
Related Words for correlationinterrelationship, interaction, parallel, correspondence, interchange, reciprocity, relationship, complement, counterpart, correspondent, interdependence, analogue, alternation, match, interconnection, interrelation, pendant
Examples from the Web for correlation
Contemporary Examples of correlation
Darwin called the same phenomenon the “correlation of growth” and geneticist today study what they call “pleiotropic effects.”Why Aristotle Deserves A Posthumous Nobel
October 18, 2014
As a designer, Gianni was completely aware of that correlation.Princess Diana, Kate Moss, Donna Karan, and More Reactions to Gianni Versace’s 1997 Murder
The Fashion Beast Team
July 15, 2014
Past research hints at a correlation between extent of brain injury following impact and the biomechanical forces at play.This Mouthpiece Will Save Football Players’ Brains
Dr. Anand Veeravagu, MD
June 27, 2014
The lack of correlation between saturated fat intake and heart disease risk still stands.The AHA’s Absurd Saturated Fat Obsession
Dr. Barbara H. Roberts
June 3, 2014
The correlation is especially robust in the lower grades, when students are in their formative years.How a 1973 Supreme Court Decision Has Contributed to Our Inequality
Geoffrey R. Stone
May 15, 2014
Historical Examples of correlation
Yet we accept them as the best expression which we have of the correlation of forces or objects.Parmenides
And the best way of getting this correlation is through community surveys.College Teaching
That is to say, in the nature of things the correlation could not have been otherwise.Essays: Scientific, Political, & Speculative, Vol. I
So far we have only a superficial perception of this correlation.Researches on Cellulose
C. F. Cross
There is a correlation between the state of development of the teeth and of the foot.Form and Function
E. S. (Edward Stuart) Russell
- a mutual or reciprocal relationship between two or more things
- the act or process of correlating or the state of being correlated
- statistics the extent of correspondence between the ordering of two variables. Correlation is positive or direct when two variables move in the same direction and negative or inverse when they move in opposite directions