Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective eclec·tic \e-ˈklek-tik, i-\

Simple Definition of eclectic

  • : including things taken from many different sources

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of eclectic

  1. 1 :  selecting what appears to be best in various doctrines, methods, or styles

  2. 2 :  composed of elements drawn from various sources; also :  heterogeneous

eclectically play \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Examples of eclectic in a sentence

  1. All around us, fishers galumphed past. … They carried an eclectic array of rods, nets, buckets and coolers. —Stephen C. Sautner, New York Times, 2 Apr. 2000

  2. Her witty, mordant and splendidly vinegary observations were informed by broad and eclectic reading. —George F. Will, Newsweek, 24 May 1999

  3. The polo crowd is eclectic and dangerously hagridden with narcissism and treachery, and that is the way they like it. —Hunter S. Thompson, Rolling Stone, 15 Dec. 1994

  4. … big wheels of country bread and eclectic selections of pâtés, hams, cheeses, honey and all sorts of homemade cookies and sweets. —Per-Henrik Mansson, Wine Spectator, 28 Feb. 1993

  5. The collection includes an eclectic mix of historical artifacts.

  6. <the museum's eclectic collection has everything from a giraffe skeleton to medieval musical instruments>

Did You Know?

Eclectic comes from a Greek verb meaning "to select" and was originally applied to ancient philosophers who were not committed to any single system of philosophy; instead, these philosophers selected whichever doctrines pleased them from every school of thought. Later, the word's use broadened to cover other selective natures. "Hard by, the central slab is thick with books / Diverse, but which the true eclectic mind / Knows how to group, and gather out of each / Their frequent wisdoms...." In this 19th century example from a poem by Arthur Joseph Munby, for example, the word is applied to literature lovers who cull selective works from libraries.

Origin of eclectic

Greek eklektikos, from eklegein to select, from ex- out + legein to gather — more at legend

First Known Use: 1683

Rhymes with eclectic



noun eclec·tic \e-ˈklek-tik, i-\

Definition of eclectic

  1. :  one who uses a method or approach that is composed of elements drawn from various sources :  one who uses an eclectic method or approach

Origin of eclectic

(see 1eclectic)

First Known Use: 1817

ECLECTIC Defined for Kids


adjective eclec·tic \e-ˈklek-tik, i-\

Definition of eclectic for Students

  1. :  including things taken from many different sources <The radio station plays an eclectic mix of music.>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up eclectic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the Celtic May Day festival

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of unctuous?

oily prompt angry maudlin
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.