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

But the populist Danish People’s Party, which often voted with the center-right Liberals, was hit with a big drop in support, meaning Loekke Rasmussen can no longer muster a majority in parliament. Time, "Denmark's Social Democrats on Track to Return to Power as PM Concedes," 7 June 2019 He was then rushed to UMMS Shock Trauma center but died not long after. Juliana Kim, baltimoresun.com, "At vigil for Baltimore 17-year-old, tributes to a dirt bike rider who inspired a neighborhood," 6 June 2019 Hartford added a second run in the second, when second baseman Bret Boswell hit his fifth home run of the season, a solo shot to right-center. Staff Report, courant.com, "Yard Goats’ no-hitter broken up by bunt single in ninth," 5 June 2019 The nonprofit Designs for Dignity also recently donated design work and furniture to the center to make the space more comfortable. Emily K. Coleman, Lake County News-Sun, "State capital bill includes funds for Lake County Children's Advocacy Center," 5 June 2019 Badia appeared to shove the student, before grabbing and pushing him to the center of the office floor. Jeff Weiner, orlandosentinel.com, "Lawsuit filed on behalf of student slammed to ground by cop at Kissimmee middle school," 5 June 2019 With the field moving more from fringe to center, that kind of collaboration might be more likely to happen in the future. Sarah Scoles, WIRED, "The WIRED Guide to Aliens," 5 June 2019 Jenna went missing when she was being transferred to a new center. Ben Kesslen, NBC News, "Missing 20-year-old New York woman's remains found in Florida," 4 June 2019 When the fossils were officially donated by his children to the center in 2015, the scientific research could finally begin. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Dinosaur bones shimmering with opal reveal a new species," 4 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

At the same time, British intelligence agents launched their own extensive campaign of disinformation to cement Hitler’s belief the invasion would center on the area around the French port of Calais, the nearest point to Britain. Alan Cowell, New York Times, "D-Day in Photos: Heroes of a More Certain Time," 6 June 2019 The issue of plastic ocean trash has been a focus of public concern over the past decade, a concern that's centered on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY, "Turns out there's more plastic pollution in the deep ocean than the Great Pacific Garbage Patch," 6 June 2019 Both the monarch and the president made speeches at the dinner centered upon strengthening the bonds between the United States and United Kingdom. PEOPLE.com, "Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles Join Donald and Melania Trump for D-Day Event," 5 June 2019 Brittany Packnett, @mspackyetti Brittany Packnett centers her life’s work on the intersection of culture and justice and her Instagram presence is no different. Cady Lang, Time, "The 25 Accounts to Follow For the Best Instagram Stories Right Now," 4 June 2019 And, building on its popularity last year, the village is expanding the Family Fun Zone to add another wrinkle to this, the 29th annual event centered at Wilson Mills and S.O.M. Center roads. cleveland.com, "29th annual Mayfield Village Cruise Night is June 8," 4 June 2019 That Is the Global Economy, is centered around the world’s financial systems. WSJ, "Adam McKay Wants to Start a World-Improvement Conference," 21 Feb. 2019 Greece has become the frontline in the worst international disaster since the 1930s: the immigration debacle, which afflicts Europe generally and is centered on the beautiful island of Lesbos, now in effect an immense refugee camp. Adam Gopnik, Town & Country, "My First Visit to the Greek Islands Turned Out to Be a Journey Home," 20 May 2019 Lily Collins and Zac Efron star in the new Netflix film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, which centers on the relationship between Ted Bundy and his former girlfriend, Liz. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Lily Collins and Zac Efron Took a Friendship Test, and I'm Emotional," 9 May 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

9 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

Comments on center

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