center

noun
cen·​ter | \ ˈsen-tər How to pronounce center (audio) , ˈse-nər \

Essential Meaning of center

1 : the middle point or part of something the center of the room/circle The candies have a soft center. [=middle] The staircase is in the center of the building.
2 : a person or thing that is causing a lot of interest, argument, etc. The proposed memorial has become a center of controversy. [=there is a lot of controversy about the proposed memorial] He likes to be the center of attention. [=he likes to be noticed and watched by many people]
3 : the position of a person or thing that is causing a lot of interest, argument, etc. They are at the center of a furious debate over whether or not to expand the city's public transportation system.

Full Definition of center

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the point around which a circle or sphere is described broadly : a point that is related to a geometrical figure in such a way that for any point on the figure there is another point on the figure such that a straight line joining the two points is bisected by the original point

called also center of symmetry

b : the center of the circle inscribed in a regular (see regular entry 1 sense 3b) polygon
2a : a point, area, person, or thing that is most important or pivotal in relation to an indicated activity, interest, or condition a railroad center the center of the controversy
b : a source from which something originates a propaganda center
c : a group of neurons having a common function respiratory center
d : a region of concentrated population an urban center
e : a facility providing a place for a particular activity or service a day-care center a shopping center a medical center
3a : the middle part (as of the forehead or a stage)
b often capitalized
(1) : a grouping of political figures holding moderate views especially between those of conservatives and liberals
(2) : the views of such politicians The party's new policies show a shift toward the center.
(3) : the adherents of such views
4a : a player occupying a middle position on a team: such as
(1) : the football player in the middle of a line who passes the ball between his legs to a back to start a down
(2) : the usually tallest player on a basketball team who usually plays near the basket
5a : either of two tapered rods which support work in a lathe or grinding machine and about or with which the work revolves
b : a conical recess in the end of work (such as a shaft) for receiving such a center

center

verb
centered; centering\ ˈsen-​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce center (audio) , ˈse-​nər-​iŋ \

Definition of center (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to place or fix at or around a center or central area center the picture on the wall
2 : to give a central focus or basis centers her hopes on her son the plot was centered on espionage
3 : to adjust (things, such as lenses) so that the axes coincide
4a : to pass (a ball or puck) from either side toward the middle of the playing area
b : to hand or pass (a football) backward between one's legs to a back (see back entry 1 sense 3) to start a down
5 : to play center (see center entry 1 sense 4) on center a line in hockey

intransitive verb

: to have a specified center : focus

Other Words from center

Noun

centerless \ ˈsen-​tər-​ləs How to pronounce center (audio) , ˈse-​nər-​ \ adjective

What prepositions are used with center?: Usage Guide

Verb

The intransitive verb center is most commonly used with the prepositions in, on, at, and around. At appears to be favored in mathematical contexts; the others are found in a broad range of contexts. Center around, a standard idiom, has often been objected to as illogical. The logic on which the objections are based is irrelevant, since center around is an idiom and idioms have their own logic. Center on is currently more common in edited prose, and revolve around and similar verbs are available if you want to avoid center around.

Examples of center in a Sentence

Noun the center of the room The staircase is in the center of the building. They are at the center of a furious debate over whether or not to expand the city's public transportation system. The vaccine is being tested at several medical centers around the country. Verb Center the picture on the wall. centered administrative duties under the command of a single person
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Tubelis’ damage, a big part of the Wildcats’ 56 points in the paint, came as Utah (8-9, 1-6 Pac-12) was without its center, Branden Carlson, who underwent an appendectomy on Jan. 8. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 15 Jan. 2022 Not without the team’s best player, Hunter Dickinson, or its backup center, Brandon Johns Jr., both of whom were ruled out less than an hour before tipoff at State Farm Center. Michael Cohen, Detroit Free Press, 15 Jan. 2022 With the high-speed network in place, the city decided in 2016 to shut its data center and move all its operations to the cloud, an effort led by Mr. Messer. Isabelle Bousquette, WSJ, 14 Jan. 2022 Last month, Jewel-Osco opened its first micro-fulfillment center next to its grocery store in southwest suburban Westmont, beefing up its online grocery capacity with third-party technology and delivery. Robert Channick, chicagotribune.com, 14 Jan. 2022 Walmart gives callers the option of requesting Covid leave online or receiving a call back from its benefits center if the wait time is longer than five minutes, Crowson said. NBC News, 14 Jan. 2022 Shaneka Adewuyi, an office administrator for the Tulsa Police Department, said that at one point her day care center closed for six weeks because of a surge in cases. New York Times, 14 Jan. 2022 As Latin America builds as one of the fastest growing streaming markets in the world and Mexico its center, Royo seems to know everyone in its industry. John Hopewell, Variety, 19 Jan. 2022 Amazon opened its fourth distribution center in San Marcos in November 2021 and has additional plans to expand in the area. Annie Blanks, San Antonio Express-News, 18 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But producer, broadcaster and players know: Fans’ most pressing questions will center around the network’s famous green gunk. Jori Epstein, USA TODAY, 15 Jan. 2022 The Ames Center will center on an interactive display resembling a circular tabletop, which will be connected to video displays projected on a circular display overhead. Steven Litt, cleveland, 9 Jan. 2022 The initial endeavor will center on digital photo cards of BTS members and will launch within the first half of 2022, said John Kim, project lead of HYBE America overseeing the NFT business, in a statement to The Wall Street Journal. Jiyoung Sohn, WSJ, 30 Dec. 2021 Future court hearings will center on remaining accusations of domestic violence and requested revisions to the couple’s 50-50 custody arrangement. Nancy Dillon, Rolling Stone, 30 Nov. 2021 The opening of the show will center on a treasure chest found by a group of storytellers, including a young woman with the power to unlock its magic. Richard Tribou, orlandosentinel.com, 22 Nov. 2021 But the legal questions about the administration’s new rules will center on different questions than those cases. Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2021 Bigger disagreements will center on questions of privacy and identity, said Timoni West, vice president of augmented and virtual reality at Unity Technologies, which builds an engine for video game worlds. Matt O'brien And Barbara Ortutay, Anchorage Daily News, 8 Nov. 2021 Bigger disagreements will center on questions of privacy and identity, said Timoni West, vice president of augmented and virtual reality at Unity Technologies, which builds an engine for video game worlds. Barbara Ortutay, chicagotribune.com, 7 Nov. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'center.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of center

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1555, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for center

Noun

Middle English centre, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin centrum "point of the stationary leg of a pair of compasses, midpoint of a circle or sphere," borrowed from Greek kéntron "sting, goad, point, stationary point of a pair of compasses, midpoint of a circle or sphere," probably reshaping (after the base verb kenteîn) of késtron "toothed implement, name for several nettle-like plants," from kentéō, kenteîn "to sting, goad, prick" (going back to Indo-European *ḱent-, *ḱnt- "sting, prick," whence Old High German hantag "pointed," Latvian sīts "hunting spear") + -tron, suffix of instruments

Verb

derivative of center entry 1

Learn More About center

Time Traveler for center

Time Traveler

The first known use of center was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near center

centennial brown

center

center back

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for center

Last Updated

22 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Center.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/center. Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for center

center

noun
cen·​ter | \ ˈsen-tər How to pronounce center (audio) \

Kids Definition of center

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the middle part of something the center of a room
2 : a person or thing characterized by a particular concentration or activity She likes to be the center of attention.
3 : a place used for a particular purpose day care center
4 : the middle point of a circle or a sphere equally distant from every point on the circumference or surface
5 : a player occupying a middle position on a basketball, football, hockey, lacrosse, or soccer team

center

verb
centered; centering

Kids Definition of center (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to place or fix at or around a center or central area Can you center the picture on the wall?
2 : to collect or concentrate at or around one point, group, or person His life centers around his family.

center

noun
cen·​ter
variants: or chiefly British centre \ ˈsent-​ər How to pronounce center (audio) \

Medical Definition of center

: a group of nerve cells having a common function the brain stem's respiratory center

called also nerve center

More from Merriam-Webster on center

Nglish: Translation of center for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of center for Arabic Speakers

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