eccentric

adjective
ec·cen·tric | \ik-ˈsen-trik, 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from eccentric

Adjective

eccentrically \ik-ˈsen-tri-k(ə-)lē, 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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Enter a delightfully eccentric cast as the show skips to rehearsals, and the mayhem takes off. Patti Restivo, Howard County Times, "Laurel Mill Playhouse presents 'Laughing Stock'," 6 July 2018 Then came deals for Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee, talented players who are also widely known as two of the most eccentric personalities in the NBA. Sam Amick, USA TODAY, "Rajon Rondo joining LeBron James in Los Angeles, but what does it mean for Lonzo Ball?," 2 July 2018 At the time, Cranks (as in, eccentric) was a chain of vegetarian restaurants in London, the first of which opened on Carnaby Street in 1961. Julia Tausch, Bon Appetit, "'The Cranks Bible' Is the Only Vegetarian Cookbook I'll Ever Need," 13 June 2018 The festival is to the music world what the town is to the rest of Southern California: a lovably eccentric jewel, a tiny explosion of beauty, weirdness and overkill. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, "A Quirky Violinist and a Festival to Match," 11 June 2018 One of his puppets talks to Tom Snyder, the late, sometimes eccentric late-night host, and Snyder just melts. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Mr. Rogers gets moving documentary in 'Won't You Be My Neighbor?'," 7 June 2018 Sasha Stewart-Miller is directing the story of the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Onassis who became a pair of notorious recluses. Tom Titus, latimes.com, "On Theater: Vanguard University schedules shows for summer and its 2018-19 season," 31 May 2018 An eccentric aunt has died in Rome, leaving Anna her apartment there. Joan Frank, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘Paris by the Book,’ by Liam Callanan; ‘Nothing Forgotten,’ by Jessica Levine," 30 Apr. 2018 This dramedy about middle-class Londoners in their 60s and 70s getting on with life has a genial watchability — even a stubborn relevance — thanks to its crackerjack ensemble cast, who play characters just eccentric enough to keep things tasty. Jane Horwitz, idahostatesman, "‘Finding Your Feet’ is too on-the-nose | Idaho Statesman," 12 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Her father, who was an inspiration as well as a local eccentric, died at the age of 80 in 2014. Peter Rowe, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Back story: Cindy Marten, a school superintendent carrying a heavy load," 8 July 2018 The man who had collected the animals in this first Western zoo, John Adams, was one of the most extraordinary figures in a city filled with eccentrics. Gary Kamiya, SFChronicle.com, "The original Grizzly Adams kept his bears on a chain in SF," 7 July 2018 Fashion’s obsession with eccentric people – and people read as eccentrics due to their marginalization — likely has something to do with its never-ending quest for the new (see also: Pose on FX). refinery29.com, "Why Fashion People Love Cult Film Grey Gardens," 3 July 2018 Know that, first, understanding the inner workings of the legendary eccentric is difficult on its face, and second, reading Frank Herbert’s Dune will help. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, "This Week in the Future of Cars: Unconventional Wisdom," 1 July 2018 There was a vivid gay energy that made this wild enclave of NOLA eccentrics seem like a glitter dam that was about to break. Kelsy Chauvin, Condé Nast Traveler, "What NOLA's 'Gay Mardi Gras' Taught Me About My Parents—and Myself," 13 June 2018 That means the conservative eccentric, who opposed both the Iraq War and last year’s GOP tax bill, will win another term, as no Democrat is running against him. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Favorites Win Nearly Everywhere on First Big Primary Night of 2018," 9 May 2018 Jim liked people, eccentrics, eccentric places and neighborhoods, and wanted to see what made them tick. Frederick N. Rasmussen, baltimoresun.com, "James D. Dilts, author and historian who wrote about railroads, architecture and preservation, dies," 12 May 2018 Owners of the handmade cruise liner join an exclusive club of eccentrics, ranging from Fred Astaire to Queen Elizabeth, and from John Lennon to Kim Kardashian. Robert Duffer, chicagotribune.com, "What makes Rolls-Royce Phantom worth $643,000?," 28 Mar. 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.

See More

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

Middle English, from Medieval Latin eccentricus, from Greek ekkentros, from ex out of + kentron center

Noun

see eccentric entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about eccentric

Listen to Our Podcast about eccentric

Statistics for eccentric

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for eccentric

The first known use of eccentric was circa 1630

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

: 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, 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- \

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 \ adverb

eccentric

noun

Medical Definition of eccentric (Entry 2 of 2)

: an eccentric individual

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on eccentric

What made you want to look up eccentric? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!