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 An eccentric, lonely Japanese billionaire planning to fly to the moon on Elon Musk’s rocket is looking for the love of his life to join him on his journey. Jihye Lee, Bloomberg.com, "Japanese Billionaire Looking for Love to Take on Musk Moon Trip," 12 Jan. 2020 Before the Battle of the Bulge, Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, Bernard Montgomery, and Courtney Hodges thought fellow general George S. Patton was a talented, eccentric, flamboyant, and sometimes buffoonish throwback to 19th-century glory hounds. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Recalling the Battle of the Bulge," 26 Dec. 2019 Fellowship surrounding the holiday season should involve a level of patience toward the quirky, the eccentric, and the misbegotten. Amy Dickinson, The Denver Post, "Ask Amy: Eccentric in-law is invited to shut up," 14 Nov. 2019 Fellowship surrounding the holiday season should involve a level of patience toward the quirky, the eccentric, and the misbegotten. Amy Dickinson, oregonlive, "Ask Amy: In-law holiday invite includes the caveat ‘Don’t be weird’," 14 Nov. 2019 Fellowship surrounding the holiday season should involve a level of patience toward the quirky, the eccentric, and the misbegotten. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, "Eccentric in-law is invited to shut up," 14 Nov. 2019 Fellowship surrounding the holiday season should involve a level of patience toward the quirky, the eccentric, and the misbegotten. Amy Dickinson, chicagotribune.com, "Ask Amy: Eccentric in-law is invited to shut up," 13 Nov. 2019 Everyone who knew Robin loved her as amazing, beautiful, talented, deliciously eccentric, funny, smart, passionate, irascible and loving. sun-sentinel.com, "Deaths in South Florida: 9/19," 19 Sep. 2019 But Schulz soon began fleshing out his cast with more eccentric, more specific, more driven characters: Schroeder, piano prodigy and Beethoven superfan; Lucy, vain fussbudget and perpetually aggrieved scold; Linus, thumb-sucking philosopher. Bruce Handy, The Atlantic, "The Peanuts Characters Aren’t Ordinary Kids," 29 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The dinner scene in this ensemble comedy-drama offers ample evidence: Conservative Joanne (Cynthia Stevenson) is wound too tight in a family full of liberals and/or eccentrics. Tim Carman, Washington Post, "The 10 greatest food scenes from holiday movies and what they really mean," 18 Dec. 2019 The dinner scene in this ensemble comedy-drama offers ample evidence: Conservative Joanne (Cynthia Stevenson) is wound too tight in a family full of liberals and/or eccentrics. Tim Carman, Houston Chronicle, "The 10 greatest food scenes from holiday movies and what they really mean," 24 Dec. 2019 The doc depicts Stanley as an eccentric who, for example, secretly returned to the Moreau set dressed as one of the movie’s half-man, half-animal beasts and worked as an extra. Clark Collis, EW.com, "Color Out of Space: On the set of Richard Stanley's wild comeback film with Nicolas Cage," 17 Dec. 2019 Many of the people who helped build Silicon Valley were hippies, eccentrics, and amateur hobbyists who prided themselves on operating outside of the institutions that had a lot of money and influence. Sarah Todd, Quartz, "The Steve Jobs speech that made Silicon Valley obsessed with pirates," 22 Oct. 2019 What prosecutors labeled a conspiracy to thwart a congressional investigation, Stone’s lawyers framed as meaningless bragging and confusion among a group of eccentrics. Rachel Weiner, Washington Post, "At trial, Roger Stone claims he was a player who got played," 7 Nov. 2019 If barbecue and Cajun are the mom and dad of 225° Urban Smoke, their kids are the ragtag band of Southern eccentrics drawing on the wall with crayons. Mike Sutter, ExpressNews.com, "Review: Cajun food, barbecue are soulmates at 225° Urban Smoke in San Antonio," 19 Sep. 2019 Canning is careful not to portray these parents as hardcore eccentrics or extreme athletes but as ordinary people in ordinary towns making out-of-the-ordinary choices, just like her. Katie Arnold, Outside Online, "A New Film Heralds the Coming Cargo-Bike Revolution," 12 Sep. 2019 It’s in Las Vegas that Theo meets the boy who becomes his closest friend, the mysterious Boris (Finn Wolfhard when young, Aneurin Barnard when older), an eccentric who uses a black umbrella to ward off the sun. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘The Goldfinch’ sings its own tune in its own sweet time," 12 Sep. 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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Time Traveler for eccentric

Time Traveler

The first known use of eccentric was circa 1630

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Statistics for eccentric

Last Updated

21 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Eccentric.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eccentrics. Accessed 28 January 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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