eccentric

adjective
ec·​cen·​tric | \ ik-ˈsen-trik How to pronounce eccentric (audio) , ek-\

Definition of eccentric

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : deviating from conventional or accepted usage or conduct especially in odd or whimsical ways an eccentric millionaire
b : deviating from an established or usual pattern or style eccentric products
2a : deviating from a circular path especially : elliptical sense 1 an eccentric orbit
b : located elsewhere than at the geometric center also : having the axis or support so located an eccentric wheel

eccentric

noun

Definition of eccentric (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a person who behaves in odd or unusual ways : an eccentric person
2 : a mechanical device consisting of an eccentric (see eccentric entry 1 sense 2b) disk communicating its motion to a rod so as to produce reciprocating motion

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Other Words from eccentric

Adjective

eccentrically \ ik-​ˈsen-​tri-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce eccentrically (audio) , ek-​ \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for eccentric

Adjective

strange, singular, unique, peculiar, eccentric, erratic, odd, quaint, outlandish mean departing from what is ordinary, usual, or to be expected. strange stresses unfamiliarity and may apply to the foreign, the unnatural, the unaccountable. a journey filled with strange sights singular suggests individuality or puzzling strangeness. a singular feeling of impending disaster unique implies singularity and the fact of being without a known parallel. a career unique in the annals of science peculiar implies a marked distinctiveness. the peculiar status of America's first lady eccentric suggests a wide divergence from the usual or normal especially in behavior. the eccentric eating habits of preschoolers erratic stresses a capricious and unpredictable wandering or deviating. a friend's suddenly erratic behavior odd applies to a departure from the regular or expected. an odd sense of humor quaint suggests an old-fashioned but pleasant oddness. a quaint fishing village outlandish applies to what is uncouth, bizarre, or barbaric. outlandish fashions of the time

Did You Know?

Adjective

Eccentric comes to us through Middle English from the Medieval Latin word eccentricus, but it is ultimately derived from a combination of the Greek words ex, meaning "out of," and kentron, meaning "center." The original meaning of "eccentric" in English was "not having the same center" (as in "eccentric spheres"). In this sense, it contrasts with concentric, meaning "having a common center" (as in "concentric circles, one within another"). But since at least 1630, English speakers have also used "eccentric" to describe individuals who are figuratively off-center. It can also be used to describe something that doesn't follow a truly circular path, as in "an eccentric orbit."

Examples of eccentric in a Sentence

Adjective

It was Charles Darwin's eccentric mathematician cousin Francis Galton who in 1874 ignited the nature-nurture controversy.  … — Matt Ridley, Time, 2 June 2003 Eccentric drifters that normally roam the farthest reaches of the solar system, these daredevils fly so close to the Sun that they pass through its scorching corona. — Maggie McKee, Astronomy, December 2002 In the spit-and-polish Navy, he and his equally unkempt colleagues were regarded as eccentric. — David M. Kennedy, Atlantic, March 1999 He was a kind but eccentric man. She's become more eccentric over the years.

Noun

It wasn't until she [Mother Teresa] had set up a leprosarium outside Calcutta on land provided by the government that I began to see her as an idealist rather than an eccentric. — Bharati Mukherjee, Time, 14 June 1999 To his own townspeople Thoreau was a radical and an eccentric, a man without a vocation, supporting himself doing odd jobs, devoting himself to what seemed to them inconsequential rambles, and living like a hermit on the shores of Walden Pond. — Maxine Kumin, In Deep, 1987 But Mozart was also an eccentric, brought up not as a creature of society but as a prodigious child speaking a language of sound. Mozart couldn't "handle people," as one former friend put it. — Edward Rothstein, New York Times Book Review, 31 Oct. 1982 an eccentric who designed his house to look like a Scottish castle
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Having become increasingly eccentric and antisocial, picking needless battles with her neighbor Audrey (Kristen Wiig), Bernadette begins to break out of her shell while planning a family trip to Antarctica at Bee’s insistence. Los Angeles Times, "How Richard Linklater’s ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’ uses oddball architecture to reflect its heroine," 14 Aug. 2019 An eccentric but evolving way of life will return to normal (for Norfolk). Simon Usborne, Town & Country, "How Rumors of a Feud Between Kate Middleton and Rose Cholmondeley Captivated a Posh Corner of Britain," 5 Aug. 2019 Late on Tuesday evening, Elon Musk, the charismatic and eccentric CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, took to the stage at the California Academy of Sciences to make a big announcement. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, "Elon Musk’s Secretive Brain Tech Company Debuts a Sophisticated Neural Implant," 17 July 2019 The images reflect the unique and eccentric residences, backalleys, and small, out-of-the-way streets in Encinitas. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Brother Benno’s plans luau fundraiser," 8 July 2019 To some this may seem an eccentric, even undemocratic way to pick the leader of an advanced democracy. R.c., The Economist, "Who are the members of the Conservative Party?," 28 June 2019 Cohen has made a lucrative career of this shtick, mocking ordinary Americans’ toleration of his eccentric and offensive behavior. Nate Hochman, National Review, "Sacha Baron Cohen’s Tired Elitist Shtick," 25 June 2019 On this week’s episode of Primp, holistic braider, Tamara Albertini introduces us to four eccentric and tribal centric ways to wear the conventional hairdo. Jennifer Ford, Essence, "Watch ‘Primp’: 4 Ways To Style Your Braids For Festival Season," 5 June 2019 The sprawling villa, once a monastery, recalls a Sicily of opulent leisure and eccentric aristocrats. Washington Post, "Pruning olive trees is a balance of art, lore and science," 1 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Full of outlandish stories, eccentrics and lessons in neighborliness, Grant’s report from the Mississippi swampland washes down like sweet tea. BostonGlobe.com, "Location, location, location," 18 July 2019 The earliest Christians in the Roman Empire are usually portrayed as eccentrics who withdrew from the world and were threatened by persecution. Fox News, "1,700-year-old recently discovered Christian letter offers clues into how faithful lived centuries ago," 17 July 2019 Ultimately, fashion eccentrics and relaxed streetwear savants coexisted beautifully in our survey of the streets in Tokyo. Vogue, "At Tokyo Fashion Week, Goths, Punks, and Skaters Ruled the Streets," 25 Mar. 2019 Large sections remain unused except for the handful of people making the full-length trek, Friend says, so the Florida Trail has developed a reputation for eccentrics. Eric Barton, Outside Online, "This Florida Thru-Hike Is Not for the Faint of Heart," 10 July 2019 Among the gallery of loners is an elderly kite-flying eccentric, an overworked sheriff, a beautiful widow who has obdurately rebuffed the advances of a queue of suitors and a shadowy millionaire who has returned bearing promises to revamp the town. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: The Enduring Appeal of Fading Pleasures," 27 Sep. 2018 The interior exudes her usual vibe—call it downtown Downton (English eccentric with a dash of cool). Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "15 Best Places for Afternoon Tea in London," 3 Mar. 2018 Small town low-life Carter (Michael Raymond-James) teams up with June (Samaire Armstrong) along with assorted eccentrics to attempt a series of increasingly dubious bank robberies. Katie Walsh, latimes.com, "Caper comedy 'Carter & June' can't live up to Tarantino-influenced excess," 17 May 2018 Naturally, Aquarius Venus also gravitates towards eccentric, free-spirited, and rebellious individuals. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What the Position of Venus in Your Birth Chart Means for You," 31 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'eccentric.' 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 eccentric

Adjective

circa 1630, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Noun

1827, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for eccentric

Adjective

borrowed from Medieval Latin ecentricus, excentricus "not concentric with another circle, (of a planetary orbit in Ptolemaic astronomy) not having the earth exactly at its center," from Late Latin eccentros, eccentrus "not having the earth at its center" (borrowed from Greek ékkentros, from ek- ec- + -kentros, adjective derivative of kéntron "sting, goad, point, stationary point of a pair of compasses, midpoint of a circle or sphere") + Latin -icus -ic entry 1 center entry 1

Noun

Middle English excentryke "planetary orbit of which the earth is not the center," borrowed from Medieval Latin excentricus, noun derivative of ecentricus, excentricus "(of a planetary orbit in Ptolemaic astronomy) not having the earth exactly at its center" eccentric entry 1

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Last Updated

19 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for eccentric

The first known use of eccentric was circa 1630

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More Definitions for eccentric

eccentric

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of eccentric

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: tending to act in strange or unusual ways
: strange or unusual
technical : not following a perfectly circular path

eccentric

noun

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

: a person who acts in strange or unusual ways : an eccentric person

eccentric

adjective
ec·​cen·​tric | \ ik-ˈsen-trik How to pronounce eccentric (audio) , ek-\

Kids Definition of eccentric

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : acting or thinking strangely an eccentric man
2 : not of the usual or normal kind eccentric ideas

eccentric

noun

Kids Definition of eccentric (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who behaves strangely

eccentric

adjective
ec·​cen·​tric | \ ik-ˈsen-trik, ek- How to pronounce eccentric (audio) \

Medical Definition of eccentric

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: deviating from an established pattern or from accepted usage or conduct

Other Words from eccentric

eccentrically \ -​tri-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce eccentrically (audio) \ adverb

eccentric

noun

Medical Definition of eccentric (Entry 2 of 2)

: an eccentric individual

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