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

Villanelle, the chameleonic Russian assassin at the center of the addictive BBC series Killing Eve, is arguably that kind of role for the large-eyed 26-year-old Liverpudlian Jodie Comer. Danielle Stein Chizzik, Town & Country, "Jodie Comer Is Hollywood’s Next Great Chameleon," 8 Apr. 2019 There's a murder mystery at the center of it, but the real thrill is watching Murphy live such an imperfect, independent life. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "The CW’s In the Dark Is a Compelling Look at the Blind Experience," 4 Apr. 2019 The specific black hole astronomers wanted to photograph, Sagittarius A*, lies at the center of our galaxy 25,000 light-years away. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "We Might Be About to See the First Ever Photo of a Black Hole," 1 Apr. 2019 But the way Gibney presents Holmes's story upended a lot of my conceptions about the woman at the center of it. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Elizabeth Holmes Is a Tragic Figure," 18 Mar. 2019 Despite the many confusing details about the event, there are still two figures that stand at the center of it all: Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Who Are Madeleine McCann's Parents? What to Know About Kate and Gerry McCann," 14 Mar. 2019 As the race approaches, the infield looks like the center of a hive, everyone buzzing about each other. James Lynch, Popular Mechanics, "One Day at Daytona," 22 Mar. 2019 Bake until the center is just set, 30 to 35 minutes. Kate Merker, Country Living, "Earl Gray Crème Brûlée," 19 Mar. 2019 Variety has more deets on what the conference actually covers: Themes for the summit center on battling misinformation, advancing the #MeToo movement, preserving journalism, and other progressive topics. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Priyanka Chopra Has Just Been Announced to Speak at a MAJOR, Star-Studded Women's Summit," 14 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The voices and experiences of young people living with HIV should be centered in any programs, policies, and conversations about them. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "What These 4 Young People Want You to Know About HIV," 10 Apr. 2019 Family run and operated, Kodiak's ethos is centered on crafting high-quality leather bags that can last for multiple lifetimes. Popular Mechanics, "Grab This High-Quality Leather Travel Bag at 15% Off," 29 Mar. 2019 My job—my entire dream of what my life would be—centered on language, on communication. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Game of Thrones’s Emilia Clarke Speaks Out About Surviving Two Brain Aneurysms," 21 Mar. 2019 My job—my entire dream of what my life would be—centered on language, on communication. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Emilia Clarke Had Two Brain Aneurysms and a Near-Death Surgery During Her Early Years on Game of Thrones," 21 Mar. 2019 This episode is centered around Jamie and Claire Fraser’s daughter Brianna and her problematic pregnancy. Outlander Fan, Marie Claire, "5 Biggest Takeaways From 'Outlander' Season 4 Episode 10," 7 Jan. 2019 In truth, his narrative is centered on the Indian subcontinent, despite its insightful forays into China’s hydraulic history. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, "‘Unruly Waters’ and ‘Ganges’ Review: In India, Water Is Politics," 4 Jan. 2019 Instead, its entire business model is centered around the small satellite revolution — a trend within the aerospace industry of spacecraft getting tinier instead of larger. Loren Grush, The Verge, "Small satellite launcher Rocket Lab is poised to send up its first batch of spacecraft for NASA," 12 Dec. 2018 Most of the growth is centered in its major cities, like Paris, and those on the periphery and in rural communities haven’t seen as many gains. Jennifer Williams, Vox, "Embattled French President Macron announces concessions to quell weeks of violent protests," 11 Dec. 2018

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

14 Apr 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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