[ pur-ter-bey-shuhn ]
See synonyms for perturbation on
  1. the act of perturbing.

  2. the state of being perturbed.

  1. mental disquiet, disturbance, or agitation.

  2. a cause of mental disquiet, disturbance, or agitation.

  3. Astronomy. deviation of a celestial body from a regular orbit about its primary, caused by the presence of one or more other bodies that act upon the celestial body.

Origin of perturbation

1325–75; <Latin perturbātiōn- (stem of perturbātiō;see perturb, -ation); replacing Middle English perturbacioun<Anglo-French <Latin, as above

Other words from perturbation

  • per·tur·ba·tion·al, adjective

Words Nearby perturbation Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use perturbation in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for perturbation


/ (ˌpɜːtəˈbeɪʃən) /

  1. the act of perturbing or the state of being perturbed

  2. a cause of disturbance or upset

  1. physics a secondary influence on a system that modifies simple behaviour, such as the effect of the other electrons on one electron in an atom

  2. astronomy a small continuous deviation in the inclination and eccentricity of the orbit of a planet or comet, due to the attraction of neighbouring planets

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

Scientific definitions for perturbation


[ pûr′tər-bāshən ]

  1. A small change in a physical system, most often in a physical system at equilibrium that is disturbed from the outside.

  2. Variation in a designated orbit, as of a planet, that results from the influence of one or more external bodies. Gravitational attraction between planets can cause perturbations and cause a planet to deviate from its expected orbit. Perturbations in Neptune's orbit led to the discovery of the object-Pluto-that was causing the perturbation. Perturbations in the orbits of stars have led to the discovery of planetary systems outside of our Solar system.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.