From Latin aberrātus, perfect passive participle of aberrō (wander, stray or deviate from), formed from ab (from, away from) + errō (stray).


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈæb.ə.ɹeɪt/
  • (file)


aberrate (third-person singular simple present aberrates, present participle aberrating, simple past and past participle aberrated)

  1. (intransitive) To go astray; to diverge; to deviate (from); deviate from. [mid 18th century][1]
    • 1765, Peter Dollond, letter to James Short dated 7 February, 1765, in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Volume 55, London, 1766, p. 55,[1]
      [] the surfaces of the concave lens may be so proportioned as to aberrate exactly equal to the convex lens, near the axis []
    • 1812, John Brady, Clavis Calendaria, London, for the author, Volume I, p. 229,[2]
      Such, indeed, were the primitive regulations of the greater number of monastic institutions; but the abominable and luxurious indulgences into which they afterwards aberrated, the page of history amply unfolds.
    • 1839, Thomas De Quincey, “Lake Reminiscences: No. V, Southey, Wordsworth, and Coleridge” originally published in Tait’s Magazine, August 1839, in David Masson (editor), The Collected Writings of Thomas De Quincey, London: A. & C. Black, 1896, Volume 2, Chapter 5, pp. 340-341,[3]
      [] the barriers, which to them limit the view, and give to it, together with the contraction, all the distinctness and definite outline of limitation, are, in nine cases out of ten, the product of their own defective and aberrating vision, and not real barriers at all.
    • 1951, William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun[4], New York: Vintage, published 1975, Act Two, Scene 2, pp. 173-174:
      [] after all the Governor of a Southern state has got to try to act like he regrets having to aberrate from being a gentleman—
  2. (transitive) To distort; to cause aberration of. [late 19th century][1]
    • 1893, Bret Harte, Sally Dows, Chapter 6, in Sally Dows and Other Stories, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, p. 104,[5]
      He saw them through no aberrating mist of tenderness or expediency—but with the single directness of the man of action.
    • 1918, Theodore Dreiser, “The Lost Phœbe”, in Free and Other Stories[6], New York: Boni and Liveright, page 122:
      He and Phœbe had had a senseless quarrel [] and she had left. It was an aberrated fulfillment of her old jesting threat that if he did not behave himself she would leave him.
    • 1934, Archibald Belaney, chapter 1, in Pilgrims of the Wild[7], London: Lovat Dickson & Thompson, published 1935:
      Don’t imagine that there was any sudden and complete renunciation such as overcomes the luckless and often temporarily aberrated victim of a highly emotionalized revival meeting; this would have been, at best, but temporary.
    • 1950, Louis S. London, Sexual Deviations, cited in reviews in Time, 17 April, 1950 (“Medicine: The Abnormal”)[8] and Journal of the Indiana State Medical Association, Volume 43, August, 1950, p. 802,[9]
      [] sexually aberrated individuals can be treated most successfully via the method of psycho-analytic psychotherapy.
    • 2014 December 5, James Adams, “Group of who? A new book paints the fullest picture yet of Canada’s vision of Impressionism”, in The Globe and Mail:
      As these monographs and as these occasional exhibition catalogues on some handful of Canadian Impressionists started to appear, once again, I was surprised (to say it with the utmost respect) that they were aberrated, there was no timeline, there was no continuity.

Usage notesEdit

  • The transitive sense is chiefly used in the past participle form (as aberrated).

Related termsEdit



  1. 1.0 1.1 Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002), “aberrate”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 4.


Etymology 1Edit



  1. inflection of aberrare:
    1. second-person plural present indicative
    2. second-person plural imperative

Etymology 2Edit


aberrate f pl

  1. feminine plural of aberrato




  1. second-person plural present active imperative of aberrō




  1. second-person singular voseo imperative of aberrar combined with te