Other forms: deviations

Anything that varies from the accepted norm or standard is called a deviation. It is common in math and science, but it can refer to anything that differs from the expected.

Deviation in nature is an important part of evolution. When something causes a creature’s DNA to change, it creates a deviation, or a changed characteristic. If the deviation makes the organism better able to survive, it passes the change on to its descendants. People are naturally given to change, so there are deviations in critical thought as well as in math and science. Those deviations often account for the creativity that gives rise to new ideas, or theories, or even musical styles.

Definitions of deviation
  1. noun
    a variation that deviates from the standard or norm
    “the deviation from the mean”
    synonyms: departure, difference, divergence
    see moresee less
    discrepancy, variance, variant
    an event that departs from expectations
    the deviation (by a vessel or aircraft) from its intended course due to drifting
    flection, flexion, inflection
    deviation from a straight or normal course
    type of:
    fluctuation, variation
    an instance of change; the rate or magnitude of change
  2. noun
    a turning aside (of your course or attention or concern)
    synonyms: deflection, deflexion, digression, divagation, diversion
    see moresee less
    red herring
    any diversion intended to distract attention from the main issue
    type of:
    turn, turning
    the act of changing or reversing the direction of the course
  3. noun
    deviate behavior
    synonyms: deviance
    see moresee less
    type of:
    abnormality, irregularity
    behavior that breaches the rule or etiquette or custom or morality
  4. noun
    the difference between an observed value and the expected value of a variable or function
    see moresee less
    an extreme deviation from the mean
    mean deviation, mean deviation from the mean
    the arithmetic mean of the absolute values of deviations from the mean of a distribution
    type of:
    a datum that can be represented numerically
  5. noun
    the error of a compass due to local magnetic disturbances
    see moresee less
    type of:
    erroneousness, error
    inadvertent incorrectness
Cite this entry
  • MLA
  • APA
  • Chicago

Copy citation
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘deviation'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
Word Family

Look up deviation for the last time

Close your vocabulary gaps with personalized learning that focuses on teaching the words you need to know.

VocabTrainer -'s Vocabulary Trainer