Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary
Word of the Day : July 10, 2011

eccentric

play
adjective ik-SEN-trik

Definition

1 a : deviating from an established or usual pattern or style

b : deviating from conventional or accepted usage or conduct

2 a : deviating from a circular path; especially : elliptical

b : located elsewhere than at the geometrical center; also : having the axis or support so located

Examples

Down the road from us lives an eccentric old man who claims that he can communicate with the birds that roost in his yard.

"Behind him at a distance, golfers on the university course attempted to lop small white balls onto large, green, eccentric circles of really short grass." -- From an article by Ed Cullen in The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), April 19, 2011



Did You Know?

"Eccentric" comes to us through Middle English from the Medieval Latin word "eccentricus," but it is ultimately derived from a combination of the Greek words "ex," meaning "out of," and "kentron," meaning "center." The original meaning of "eccentric" in English was "not having the same center" (as in "eccentric spheres"). In this sense, it contrasts with "concentric," meaning "having a common center" (as in "concentric circles, one within another"). But since at least 1630, English speakers have also used "eccentric" to describe individuals who are figuratively off-center. It can also be used to describe something that doesn't follow a truly circular path, as in "an eccentric orbit."

Test Your Memory

What recent Word of the Day means "to express strong disapproval of"? The answer is ...


Podcast


More Words of the Day