[ kawr-uh-ley-shuhn, kor- ]
See synonyms for: correlationcorrelations on

  1. mutual relation of two or more things, parts, etc.: Studies find a positive correlation between severity of illness and nutritional status of the patients.

  2. the act of correlating or state of being correlated.

  1. Statistics. the degree to which two or more attributes or measurements on the same group of elements show a tendency to vary together.

  2. Physiology. the interdependence or reciprocal relations of organs or functions.

  3. Geology. the demonstrable equivalence, in age or lithology, of two or more stratigraphic units, as formations or members of such.

Origin of correlation

First recorded in 1555–65; from Medieval Latin: correlātiōn- (stem of correlātiō ); see cor-, relation
  • Also especially British, co·re·la·tion .

word story For correlation

The word correlation is a wonderful example of a word that started out as a general term and proved to be so useful in various fields of study that it developed more specialized senses over time.
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.

Other words for correlation

Other words from correlation

  • cor·re·la·tion·al, adjective
  • in·ter·cor·re·la·tion, noun
  • mis·cor·re·la·tion, noun
  • non·cor·re·la·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use correlation in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for correlation


/ (ˌkɒrɪˈleɪʃən) /

  1. a mutual or reciprocal relationship between two or more things

  2. the act or process of correlating or the state of being correlated

  1. 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

Origin of correlation

C16: from Medieval Latin correlātiō, from com- together + relātiō, relation

Derived forms of correlation

  • correlational, adjective

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