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

Defining extremism might sound like a good idea, but for freedom advocates, almost any definition proposed runs the risk of silencing the merely eccentric. The Economist, "Blasphemy laws are quietly vanishing in liberal democracies," 25 Aug. 2019 The Free Press invited Elliott to explain what inspired some of Bowlero's unique and eccentric touches. John Monaghan, Freep.com, "Royal Oak bowling alley's $1.4M vintage overhaul is a 'feast for the eyes'," 22 Aug. 2019 Where did a time go when quirky, eccentric, free people might drift up like so much beautiful flotsam on a fragile sandbar 60 miles out in the Atlantic? New York Times, "Recapturing a Lost World in ‘Provincetown’," 14 Aug. 2019 What once was reserved for the wealthy and eccentric has entered into the marketplace as an alternative option to adopting or purchasing a dog or cat. Roxanne Roberts, Anchorage Daily News, "When is the best time to clone your dog?," 11 July 2019 The resort collection was comprised of 97 looks in total, according to The Guardian, including Mickey Mouse prints, bold and eccentric patterns, rainbow logo backpacks, and various signature Gucci logos and prints scattered throughout. Gianluca Russo, Teen Vogue, "Gucci Shows Support of Reproductive Rights With its Latest Collection," 29 May 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The show was run by male eccentrics with money, shot in Vegas, and adored by young boys across the country. Sarah Larson, The New Yorker, "In Season 3, “GLOW” Raises the Stakes," 30 Aug. 2019 Answer: 273 This week’s trivia question: Which San Francisco eccentric had the same name as a Police song? Gary Kamiya, SFChronicle.com, "San Francisco love story: A hooker, her gambling man and a hanging," 23 Aug. 2019 Like most California eccentrics, Williamson hailed from elsewhere (Houston, in this case), wandered lost and then was found. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: The uniquely California rise of Marianne Williamson," 31 July 2019 Jazz-age eccentrics like Aleister Crowley took it as a direct line to the occult. The Economist, "A mind-bending history of mescaline," 28 June 2019 The big kahuna obviously is Walton, a walking, talking eccentric who specializes in throwing out a non sequitur or two during the heat of a game. Paul Sullivan, chicagotribune.com, "Jason Benetti isn’t sure what Bill Walton will bring to the White Sox telecast, but ‘I’m not going to have the media-room brownies’," 14 Aug. 2019 These are two of the several smalltown eccentrics whom Morris allows to ramble on unfiltered about their values, plans, and opinions, an offbeat oral history laying bare their absurdity and humanity. Peter Keough, BostonGlobe.com, "Doc Talk: More moon, more Morris, more music," 18 July 2019 There are three things fashion people love: eccentrics, glamour, and tragicomedy – that perverse play of humor and sadness so loved in the British (and camp) comedy cannon that we Americans can't get enough of. refinery29.com, "Why Fashion People Love Cult Film Grey Gardens," 3 July 2018 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

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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Statistics for eccentric

Last Updated

2 Sep 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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