center

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

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 centering (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

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Other Words from center

Noun

centerless \ ˈsen-​tər-​ləs How to pronounce centerless (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

That blip is just a small insight into Mark's personal life, where his wife and three children are clearly at the center of it all. Marie Milano, Country Living, "Shark Tank's Mark Cuban and His Wife Tiffany's Marriage Is Worth More Than Money Can Buy," 10 Mar. 2019 Talks of the movie being Cuarón’s masterpiece were starting to circulate, as well as questions about the woman at the center of this very personal film—who was she, and how did Cuarón find her? Yolanda Machado, Harper's BAZAAR, "Yalitza Aparicio on Roma's Significance: "This Film Is An Opportunity to Make People Reflect"," 24 Feb. 2019 Many of these species have a place in the home landscape, but the evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) deserves a spot at the center of any edible shade garden. Colin Mccrate, The Seattle Times, "Our native evergreen huckleberry brings dynamic color and oodles of fruit to your edible shade garden," 20 Feb. 2019 The canary-colored 16th-century monastery at the center of town was built on top of a Mesoamerican temple, and the color yellow continues to pay homage to the region’s Mayan roots. Megan Barber, Curbed, "The 25 most colorful cities in the world," 19 Feb. 2019 Circular in shape, the sinkhole is located at the center of Lighthouse Reef, an atoll in the Caribbean Sea. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "What Is the Great Blue Hole?," 19 Feb. 2019 Gently tap one side of each hard-cooked egg on cutting board to crack slightly; transfer to wreath centers and bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Erin Phraner, Good Housekeeping, "Give This Traditional Easter Bread a Sweet and Colorful Update," 28 Feb. 2019 An egg with its bright yellow center and the life that springs from it, says Wolynetz. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, "The History of Easter Eggs and Why They're Decorated," 25 Feb. 2019 Amazon subcontracts flying between its U.S. fulfillment centers, as well as ground handling and maintenance services. Alison Sider, WSJ, "Plane Flying Cargo for Amazon Crashes in Texas," 23 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Full House spinoff first came to the streaming service in February 2016 and centered around D.J. and Stephanie (a.k.a. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Fuller House' Season 5 Sounds Like It's Going to Be a Wild Ride," 14 Mar. 2019 Recently, Ruiz made her acting debut, guest-starring on FX’s Sons of Anarchy spin-off Mayans M.C., centered around the trials and tribulations of a Latinx biker gang. Jasmin Hernandez, Harper's BAZAAR, "Nomi Ruiz on Making Art That Means Something," 17 Jan. 2019 That said, a respectable number of studies exist on saunas, many of them from Finnish researchers and centered around cardiovascular effects. SELF, "Does the Steam Room at the Gym Actually Do Anything?," 4 Jan. 2019 According to The Guardian, Greta credits her inspiration for her school strikes to the walkouts in the United States centered around gun control. Emily Bloch, Teen Vogue, "15-Year-Old Activist Greta Thunberg Schooled World Leaders on Climate Change at a United Nations Summit," 5 Dec. 2018 Unfold other half, and gently press dough to fit snugly into tin, making sure it is completely centered and pressed all the way into bottom of tin. Lisa Ludwinski, WSJ, "Pies That Bind: Thanksgiving Recipes From the Heartland," 15 Nov. 2018 The company has multiple game shows in the works, according to a source, including ideas centered around comedy and shopping. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "HQ Trivia was a blockbuster hit — but internal turmoil and a shrinking audience have pushed it to the brink," 5 Nov. 2018 The idea for Earth Overshoot Day originated in 1987 with the Global Footprint Network, which is a think tank centered around sustainable practices. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Today Is Earth Overshoot Day and That Is Not a Good Thing," 1 Aug. 2018 While A Royal Romance followed their courtship, right up to the royal engagement, Becoming Royal will center around their first year as a married couple. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Lifetime Is Making Another Movie About Prince Harry and Meghan Markle," 22 Feb. 2019

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

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Statistics for center

Last Updated

17 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for center

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

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More Definitions for center

center

noun

English Language Learners Definition of center

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the middle point or part of something
: a person or thing that is causing a lot of interest, argument, etc.
: the position of a person or thing that is causing a lot of interest, argument, etc.

center

verb

English Language Learners Definition of center (Entry 2 of 2)

: to place (something) in the middle of something
: to be mainly concerned about or involved with someone or something
: to cause (something) to be mainly concerned about or involved with something

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 centre (audio) \

Medical Definition of center

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

called also nerve center

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More from Merriam-Webster on center

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with center

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for center

Spanish Central: Translation of center

Nglish: Translation of center for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of center for Arabic Speakers

Comments on center

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