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

Last year, the city’s housing authority received a $1.3 million federal grant to revitalize the neighborhood, with a renovation for Poe Homes at the center of the plan. Christine Condon, baltimoresun.com, "Water main break leaves Baltimore's Poe Homes public housing residents without water for days," 20 June 2019 To rearrange on defense in the top of the fifth when Ahmed left, Ketel Marte moved to shortstop, and Locastro came in at center. Katherine Fitzgerald, azcentral, "Nick Ahmed leaves Diamondbacks game with left hand contusion," 20 June 2019 But Vidal is the scheming, spectacularly amoral spider at the center of the novel’s densely woven web of intrigue, obsessed with recovering the Shroud of Antioch not for religious reasons but to serve his own political and religious ambitions. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "A lush tale of love and hate and religion and politics," 20 June 2019 The facility was also at the center of a long-running criminal probe that ended without charges in April. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "State Assembly seeks to delay the closure of Lincoln Hills teen prison," 20 June 2019 Meanwhile, the case agent at the center of the raid - Sgt. Keri Blakinger And St. John Barned-smith, Houston Chronicle, "DA threatens to subpoena police for names of informants behind deadly Harding Street drug raid," 20 June 2019 But Vidal is the scheming, spectacularly amoral spider at the center of the novel’s densely woven web of intrigue, obsessed with recovering the Shroud of Antioch not for religious reasons but to serve his own political and religious ambitions. Elizabeth Hand, Washington Post, "‘Burning Chambers’ is a sweeping historical novel that puts current events in perspective," 19 June 2019 School is out and the squad at the center of the sci-fi tale is on the cusp of adulthood. Rosy Cordero, EW.com, "Here's everything coming to Netflix in July 2019," 19 June 2019 At the center of it all, a nation scrambling to find out who wanted to kill a national hero and why. Michael Levenson, BostonGlobe.com, "David Ortiz case a high-profile test for troubled Dominican criminal justice system," 18 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Much intrigue has centered on Platini’s decision to vote for Qatar. Washington Post, "Platini arrested as part of 2022 World Cup investigation," 19 June 2019 Much intrigue has centered on Platini’s decision to vote for Qatar. John Leicester, BostonGlobe.com, "Michel Platini arrested as part of 2022 World Cup investigation," 18 June 2019 The majority of the cases have been centered in the New York City. CBS News, "Potential measles exposure reported at New Jersey's Newark Airport," 18 June 2019 Much intrigue has centered on Platini’s decision to vote for Qatar. Samuel Petrequin, The Denver Post, "Michel Platini arrested: Former UEFA president in 2022 World Cup probe," 18 June 2019 Much intrigue has centered on Platini's decision to vote for Qatar. NBC News, "Soccer official Michel Platini arrested in 2022 World Cup investigation," 18 June 2019 Yet much of the discussion has centered less on what is to come and more on the ambiguous circumstances preceding the injury. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Kevin Durant's Achilles Injury and the Potential Legal Implications," 17 June 2019 Speculation had long centered around James and the Lakers. Usa Today Sports, USA TODAY, "Reports: Pelicans trade Anthony Davis to Lakers in blockbuster NBA deal; Lonzo Ball, others to New Orleans," 15 June 2019 Connors’ community service has been centered around St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Area’s best of the best for grades and games," 13 June 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

23 Jun 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

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