Perversion is a term, often considered derogatory, for a type of human behavior that deviates from that which is understood to be orthodox or normal. Although the term perversion can refer to a variety of forms of deviation, it is most often used to describe sexual behaviors that are considered particularly abnormal, repulsive or obsessive. Perversion differs from deviant behavior, in that the latter covers areas of behavior (such as petty crime) for which perversion would be too strong a term. In psychological literature, the term paraphilia has been used as a replacement, though this term is controversial, and deviation is sometimes used in its place.

A pervert is a person who shows behavior that is considered perverted by the society in which they live. What is considered a sexual perversion or not is strongly culturally dependent. For example, in modern times, some cultures consider oral or anal sex "perverted", while other cultures do not. Also homosexuality or masturbation can in some cultures be considered "perversions". In historic times and across the globe, the concept of perversion is found varying with the cultural conventions.

The noun sometimes occurs in abbreviated slang form as "perv" and used as a verb meaning "to act like a pervert", and the adjective "pervy" also occurs. All are often, but not exclusively, used non-seriously.


The sense of a perversion or as a sexual term was derived in 1896, and applied originally to variants of sexualities or sexual behavior believed harmful by the individual or group using the term.

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