1

eccentric

play
adjective ec·cen·tric \ik-ˈsen-trik, ek-\

Definition of eccentric

  1. 1a :  deviating from an established or usual pattern or style eccentric productsb :  deviating from conventional or accepted usage or conduct especially in odd or whimsical ways an eccentric millionaire

  2. 2a :  deviating from a circular path; especially :  elliptical 1 an eccentric orbitb :  located elsewhere than at the geometric center; also :  having the axis or support so located an eccentric wheel

eccentrically

play \ik-ˈsen-tri-k(ə-)lē, ek-\ adverb

eccentric was our Word of the Day on 07/10/2011. Hear the podcast!

Examples of eccentric in a Sentence

  1. It was Charles Darwin's eccentric mathematician cousin Francis Galton who in 1874 ignited the nature-nurture controversy.  … —Matt Ridley, Time, 2 June 2003

  2. 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

  3. In the spit-and-polish Navy, he and his equally unkempt colleagues were regarded as eccentric. —David M. Kennedy, Atlantic, March 1999

  4. He was a kind but eccentric man.

  5. She's become more eccentric over the years.

Recent Examples of eccentric from the Web

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.

Did You Know?

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."

Origin and Etymology of eccentric

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

Synonym Discussion of eccentric

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

2

eccentric

play
noun ec·cen·tric \ik-ˈsen-trik, ek-\

Definition of eccentric

  1. 1 :  a mechanical device consisting of an eccentric (see 1eccentric 2b) disk communicating its motion to a rod so as to produce reciprocating motion

  2. 2 :  a person who behaves in odd or unusual ways :  an eccentric person

Examples of eccentric in a Sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. an eccentric who designed his house to look like a Scottish castle

Recent Examples of eccentric from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of eccentric

see 1eccentric


ECCENTRIC Defined for English Language Learners

eccentric

play
adjective

Definition of eccentric for English Language Learners

  • : tending to act in strange or unusual ways

  • : strange or unusual

  • : not following a perfectly circular path

eccentric

play
noun

Definition of eccentric for English Language Learners

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


ECCENTRIC Defined for Kids

1

eccentric

play
adjective ec·cen·tric \ik-ˈsen-trik, ek-\

Definition of eccentric for Students

  1. 1 :  acting or thinking strangely an eccentric man

  2. 2 :  not of the usual or normal kind eccentric ideas


2

eccentric

play
noun ec·cen·tric

Definition of eccentric for Students

  1. :  a person who behaves strangely


Medical Dictionary

1

eccentric

play
adjective ec·cen·tric \ik-ˈsen-trik, ek-\

Medical Definition of eccentric

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

eccentrically

\-tri-k(ə-)lē\play adverb

2

eccentric

noun ec·cen·tric

Medical Definition of eccentric

  1. :  an eccentric individual



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

lethargy or dullness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time-traveler-quiz-which-word-came-first
  • Which came first?
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!