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adjective pe·cu·liar \pi-ˈkyül-yər\

Simple Definition of peculiar

  • : not usual or normal

  • : not well : somewhat ill

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of peculiar

  1. 1 :  characteristic of only one person, group, or thing :  distinctive

  2. 2 :  different from the usual or normal: a :  special, particular b :  odd, curious c :  eccentric, queer



Examples of peculiar in a sentence

  1. "Because we weren't like other people. We were peculiar."
    "Peculiar how?"
    "Oh, all sorts of ways," he said. "There was a girl who could fly, a boy who had bees living inside him, a brother and sister who could lift boulders over their heads."
    —Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

  2. As military coups go, this was a most peculiar one, bloodless, and in Bangkok at least quite popular. —Ian Buruma, New York Review, 1 Mar. 2007

  3. Right about then, Ensberg got himself back on the field, where a peculiar thing happened: he stopped thinking. —Tom Friend, ESPN, 28 Aug. 2006

  4. I smell again the peculiar and dynamic smell of Gillespie's science room. —Muriel Spark, Curriculum Vitae, (1992) 1993

  5. It seems peculiar that he would leave town and not tell anybody.

  6. The dog's peculiar behavior worried them.

  7. She got a peculiar feeling when the phone rang.

  8. She had a peculiar expression on her face.

Origin and Etymology of peculiar

Middle English peculier, from Latin peculiaris of private property, special, from peculium private property, from pecu cattle; akin to Latin pecus cattle — more at fee

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of peculiar

characteristic, individual, peculiar, distinctive mean indicating a special quality or identity. characteristic applies to something that distinguishes or identifies a person or thing or class <responded with her characteristic wit>. individual stresses qualities that distinguish one from all other members of the same kind or class <a highly individual writing style>. peculiar applies to qualities possessed only by a particular individual or class or kind and stresses rarity or uniqueness <an eccentricity that is peculiar to the British>. distinctive indicates qualities distinguishing and uncommon and often superior or praiseworthy <a distinctive aura of grace and elegance>.

strange, singular, unique, peculiar, eccentric, erratic, odd, quaint, outlandish mean departing from what is ordinary, usual, or to be expected. strange stresses unfamiliarity and may apply to the foreign, the unnatural, the unaccountable <a journey filled with strange sights>. singular suggests individuality or puzzling strangeness <a singular feeling of impending disaster>. unique implies singularity and the fact of being without a known parallel <a career unique in the annals of science>. peculiar implies a marked distinctiveness <the peculiar status of America's first lady>. eccentric suggests a wide divergence from the usual or normal especially in behavior <the eccentric eating habits of preschoolers>. erratic stresses a capricious and unpredictable wandering or deviating <a friend's suddenly erratic behavior>. odd applies to a departure from the regular or expected <an odd sense of humor>. quaint suggests an old-fashioned but pleasant oddness <a quaint fishing village>. outlandish applies to what is uncouth, bizarre, or barbaric <outlandish fashions of the time>.



noun pe·cu·liar \pi-ˈkyül-yər\

Definition of peculiar

  1. :  something exempt from ordinary jurisdiction; especially :  a church or parish exempt from the jurisdiction of the ordinary in whose territory it lies

Origin and Etymology of peculiar

(see 1peculiar)

First Known Use: 1562

PECULIAR Defined for Kids


adjective pe·cu·liar \pi-ˈkyül-yər\

Definition of peculiar for Students

  1. 1 :  of or limited to only one person, thing, or place <It's a custom peculiar to England.>

  2. 2 :  different from the usual :  odd



History for peculiar

The word peculiar first meant “a person's own.” You may have some quality that is just your own. No one else has it. That surely makes it unusual. This is how peculiar came to mean “unusual” or “odd.”

Seen and Heard

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


different from the usual or normal

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