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 Some buyers will balk at the Kia’s eccentric styling but not the Mazda, which (despite its lamentable wheel-arch cladding) is one of the most appealing vehicles out there. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "Encore GX ST brings Buick manners to small SUVs," 19 Sep. 2020 But so far, the show's boisterous and unchecked format certainly hasn't disappointed the thousands of loyal viewers who tune in every week, nor have Washington's vibrant fashion sense and eccentric glam. Bianca Betancourt, Harper's BAZAAR, "Sydnee Washington Is Comedy's Hottest Dish," 16 Sep. 2020 Las Pozas in Xilitla, Mexico Created by English poet and surrealist art collector Edward James, with the guidance of Plutarco Gastélum, Las Pozas is an eccentric garden nestled in the jungles of Mexico. Kristin Braswell, Travel + Leisure, "6 Enchanting Secret Gardens Around the World," 12 Sep. 2020 Exotic — the eccentric Oklahoma zookeeper who tried to have his rival, Carole Baskin, killed — is now an inmate at Fort Worth FMC, a federal prison medical center. Jeremy Hallock, Dallas News, "Amazon picks up Joe Exotic drama starring Nicolas Cage," 11 Sep. 2020 In January, audiences will see her in All Creatures Great and Small in the role of the eccentric Mrs. Pumphrey. Aurelie Corinthios, PEOPLE.com, "Dame Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones Star and Bond Girl, Dies at 82," 10 Sep. 2020 Her main form of art was pottery, which inspired her home's eccentric style. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "This Artist's Home Was Deemed Unsellable Due to Its Bold, Rainbow-Like Decor," 18 June 2020 After an initial consultation, clients get started on the machines, which focus on resistance training and the concentric and eccentric movement of muscles. Evan Casey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The Exercise Coach, a high-tech fitness studio, just opened in Brookfield," 8 Sep. 2020 There’s an eccentric, back-and-forth highway shootout, with one set of characters flowing backwards in time, mixing it up with another set charging forward. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "‘Tenet’ review: Saving the world, backwards, makes for an uneven Christopher Nolan thriller," 3 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Strength exercises have two obvious phases: the concentric (the lifting part) and the eccentric (the lowering part). Alexa Tucker, SELF, "7 Ways to Prevent and Treat Sore Muscles After a Workout," 18 Aug. 2020 Majors was a charming eccentric in The Last Black Man in San Francisco, and his diligent weariness brought some low-key whimsy to Da 5 Bloods' all-about-everything excess. Darren Franich, EW.com, "Clichés terrorize the bold provocations of Lovecraft Country: Review," 13 Aug. 2020 The expansion franchise unveiled its nickname Thursday, ending 19 months of speculation about whether the team might lean traditional or go eccentric with the name for the league’s 32nd team. Tim Booth, The Denver Post, "Release the Kraken: Seattle unveils name for NHL franchise," 23 July 2020 Free-spirited and eccentric, they can often be identified by their offbeat fashion sensibilities, unusual hobbies, and nonconformist attitude. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "The Personality of an Aquarius, Explained," 31 July 2020 But Memoirs and Misinformation crystallizes his Twitter Age persona as an eccentric strafing the internet with anti-Trump cartoons, confessional performance art, and R.-Crumb-ish paintings. Darren Franich, EW.com, "Jim Carrey talks Memoirs and Misinformation, his novel about Jim Carrey," 7 July 2020 Showrunner Michael Schur and several returning Parks staffers pack the script with grace notes and callbacks, plus check-ins from beloved Pawnee eccentrics. Darren Franich, EW.com, "The Parks and Recreation reunion really was something special: Review," 1 May 2020 By that time, the Copenhagen eccentric had become one of the most important influences on twentieth-century theology and philosophy. Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker, "Søren Kierkegaard’s Struggle with Himself," 4 May 2020 The carefully contrived nature of her search allows Murray to send her crisscrossing London among a variety of social strata, populated by eccentrics, bigwigs and average folks, deepening his portrait of this alien environment. Washington Post, "There’s no shortage of novels about what happens when the Earth stops spinning. ‘The Last Day’ may set a new standard.," 10 Feb. 2020

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 — more at 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" — more at eccentric entry 1

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Time Traveler for eccentric

Time Traveler

The first known use of eccentric was circa 1630

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Statistics for eccentric

Last Updated

23 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Eccentric.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eccentric. Accessed 23 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for eccentric

eccentric

adjective
How to pronounce eccentric (audio)

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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Comments on eccentric

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