02 February 2009

perturb, perturbation

Perhaps perturb and perturbation should have separate entries in a proper dictionary, but since this is anything but proper, or a dictionary for that matter, I shall list them both here.

Perturb looks incomplete, a stub of a word. One doesn't say "perturb" easily. It smacks of pretension, snobbery, even malapropism. It stops abruptly with an unsmooth "b." It makes one wonder if it's a necessary word. Doesn't it mean the same thing as "disturb?"

Perturbation, on the other hand, rhymes with "masturbation," and thereby lends itself to ridicule. This is naturally endearing to me. Furthermore, as revealed in the formal definitions copied below, it has a scientific, specifically astronomical, meaning -- even more endearing.

To say that I am in a state of perturbation (what? what did you say?) can certainly mean that I am upset, but also that I am knocked out of kilter, pulled from my orbit by that old devil Gravity, the weak force.

May I disturb you? Certainly. May I perturb you? Do you need to ask? You either do or you don't. Perhaps you could ask forgiveness.

And don't even think about perturbing my church pew.


Perturb Per*turb", v. t. [L. perturbare, perturbatum; per +
turbare to disturb, fr. turba a disorder: cf. OF. perturber.
See Per-, and Turbid.]
1. To disturb; to agitate; to vex; to trouble; to disquiet.
[1913 Webster]

Ye that . . . perturb so my feast with crying.
[1913 Webster]

2. To disorder; to confuse. [R.] --Sir T. Browne.
[1913 Webster]

-- From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48

v 1: disturb in mind or make uneasy or cause to be worried or
alarmed; "She was rather perturbed by the news that her
father was seriously ill" [syn: unhinge, disquiet, trouble,
cark, distract, disorder]
2: disturb or interfere with the usual path of an electron or
atom; "The electrons were perturbed by the passing ion"
3: cause a celestial body to deviate from a theoretically
regular orbital motion, especially as a result of
interposed or extraordinary gravitational pull; "The
orbits of these stars were perturbed by the passings of a
4: throw into great confusion or disorder; "Fundamental
Islamicists threaten to perturb the social order in
Algeria and Egypt" [syn: derange, throw out of kilter]

-- From WordNet (r) 2.0

110 Moby Thesaurus words for "perturb":
abash, addle, addle the wits, afflict, agitate, ail, alarm,
ball up, be the matter, beat, beat up, becloud, bedazzle, befuddle,
beset, bewilder, bother, bug, burden, churn, churn up, cloud,
complicate matters, concern, confuse, convulse, daze, dazzle,
disarrange, discombobulate, discomfit, discomfort, discommode,
discompose, disconcert, dishevel, dismay, disorder, disorganize,
disorient, disquiet, distract, distress, disturb, electrify,
embarrass, embroil, entangle, excite, ferment, flummox, flurry,
fluster, flutter, fog, fret, fuddle, fuss, harass, inconvenience,
irk, jar, jolt, jumble, knock galley-west, load with care, maze,
mist, mix up, moider, muddle, paddle, perplex, perturbate, plague,
pother, psych, put out, put to it, puzzle, raise hell, rattle,
rile, ripple, rock, roil, roughen, ruffle, rumple, shake, shake up,
shock, spook, stagger, stir, stir up, swirl, throw,
throw into confusion, torment, trouble, unnerve, unsettle, upset,
vex, whip, whip up, whisk, work up, worry

-- From Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0


Perturbation Per`tur*ba"tion, n. [L. perturbatio: cf. F.
1. The act of perturbing, or the state of being perturbed;
esp., agitation of mind.
[1913 Webster]

2. (Astron.) A disturbance in the regular elliptic or other
motion of a heavenly body, produced by some force
additional to that which causes its regular motion; as,
the perturbations of the planets are caused by their
attraction on each other. --Newcomb.
[1913 Webster]

-- From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48

n 1: an unhappy and worried mental state; "there was too much
anger and disturbance"; "she didn't realize the upset
she caused me" [syn: disturbance, upset]
2: (physics) a secondary influence on a system that causes it
to deviate slightly
3: activity that is an intrusion or interruption; "he looked
around for the source of the disturbance"; "there was a
disturbance of neural function" [syn: disturbance]
4: a disposition that is confused or nervous and upset [syn: fluster]
5: the act of causing disorder [syn: disruption]

-- From WordNet (r) 2.0

235 Moby Thesaurus words for "perturbation":
ado, aggravation, agitation, all-overs, angst, animation, anxiety,
anxiety hysteria, anxiety neurosis, anxious bench, anxious concern,
anxious seat, anxiousness, apprehension, apprehensiveness, arousal,
arousing, baffle, bafflement, befuddlement, bewilderment, bluster,
bobbery, boil, boiling, bother, botheration, brouhaha, bustle,
cankerworm of care, care, chaos, chills of fear, churn, cloud,
cold creeps, cold shivers, cold sweat, commotion, concern,
concernment, confoundment, confusion, conturbation, convulsion,
creeps, daze, derangement, dilemma, disarrangement, disarray,
disarticulation, discombobulation, discomfiture, discomposure,
disconcert, disconcertedness, disconcertion, disconcertment,
disharmony, dishevelment, disintegration, disjunction, dislocation,
disorder, disorderliness, disorganization, disorientation,
disproportion, disquiet, disquietude, disruption, distress,
disturbance, dread, ebullience, ebullition, eddy, effervescence,
electrification, embarrassment, embroilment, enigma, entropy,
exacerbation, exasperation, excitation, excitement, exhilaration,
fear, fear and trembling, feery-fary, ferment, fermentation, fever,
feverishness, fidgets, fix, flap, flummox, flurry, fluster,
flutter, flutteration, fog, foment, fomentation, foreboding,
forebodingness, frenzy, fuddle, fuddlement, fume, fuss,
galvanization, goose bumps, gooseflesh, haphazardness, haze,
heartquake, horripilation, hubbub, hurly-burly, hurry,
hurry-scurry, incitement, incoherence, indiscriminateness,
inflammation, infuriation, inharmonious harmony, inquietude,
insanity, irregularity, irritation, jam, jimjams, jitters, jumble,
jumpiness, lathering up, maelstrom, malaise, maze, mess,
misarrangement, misgiving, mist, moil, most admired disorder,
muddle, muddlement, mystery, nerviness, nervous tension,
nervousness, nonplus, nonsymmetry, nonuniformity, overanxiety,
palpitation, pell-mell, perplexity, pickle, pins and needles,
plight, pother, predicament, problem, promiscuity, promiscuousness,
provocation, pucker, puzzle, puzzlement, quaking, quandary,
quiver of terror, randomness, restlessness, riddle, roil, rout,
row, ruffle, scrape, seethe, seething, shivers, shuffle, shuffling,
solicitude, steaming up, stew, stimulation, stimulus, stir,
stirring, stirring up, strain, suspense, sweat, swirl, swirling,
swivet, tension, thrill of fear, tizzy, to-do, trepidation,
trepidity, trouble, tumult, tumultuation, turbidity, turbulence,
turmoil, twitter, unassuredness, unease, uneasiness, unquietness,
unrest, unsettlement, unsymmetry, ununiformity, uproar, upset,
vexation, vortex, whipping up, whirl, working up, yeastiness,

-- From Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0

PERTURBATION. This is a technical word which signifies disturbance, or
infringement of a right. It is usually applied to the disturbance of pews,
or seats in a church. In the ecclesiastical courts actions for these
disturbances are technically called "suits for perturbation of seat." 1
Phillim. 323. Vide Pew.

-- From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856)

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