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[pur-ter-bey-shuh n] /ˌpɜr tərˈbeɪ ʃən/
the act of perturbing.
the state of being perturbed.
mental disquiet, disturbance, or agitation.
a cause of mental disquiet, disturbance, or agitation.
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.
1325-75; < Latin perturbātiōn- (stem of perturbātiō; see perturb, -ation); replacing Middle English perturbacioun < Anglo-French < Latin, as above
Related forms
perturbational, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for perturbations
  • If you achieve this, then side gusts of wind and random perturbations are self-correcting instead of self-amplifying.
  • So when a crystal has become triangular, other perturbations cannot change its shape further.
  • Less well recognized is that our social and economic systems are also highly sensitive to climate perturbations.
  • The quantum-mechanical bond entangling two particles is so delicate, it can be broken by any number of outside perturbations.
  • For these structures to form there must have been primordial perturbations in the early matter and energy distributions.
  • Circadian oscillations are incredibly robust, ie, resistant to perturbations and random noise from the environment.
  • There have been several severe rapid-onset climate perturbations throughout history.
  • They're cold, they're non-interacting, and their perturbations are adiabatic.
  • Thus, only effects due to external perturbations can be computed when these external perturbations obey equations of motion.
British Dictionary definitions for perturbations


the act of perturbing or the state of being perturbed
a cause of disturbance or upset
(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
(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
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Word Origin and History for perturbations



late 14c., from Old French perturbacion "disturbance, confusion" (14c.) and directly from Latin perturbationem (nominative perturbatio) "confusion, disorder, disturbance," noun of action from past participle stem of perturbare (see perturb).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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perturbations in Science
  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 that was causing the perturbation—the planet Pluto. 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 © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for perturbations


in astronomy, deviation in the motion of a celestial object caused either by the gravitational force of a passing object or by a collision with it. For example, predicting the Earth's orbit around the Sun would be rather straightforward were it not for the slight perturbations in its orbital motion caused by the gravitational influence of the other planets. The search for an eighth planet, which culminated in the discovery of Neptune, was undertaken in part because some astronomers believed that the orbit of Uranus was being gravitationally perturbed by some object beyond it.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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