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 eccentric (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 It’s a three-part series that takes viewers behind the scenes of a decade-long investigation into Thomas Randolph, an eccentric Las Vegas man accused of killing his wife Sharon. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "‘American Idol,’ and ‘Young Rock’ top this week’s TV picks," 14 Feb. 2021 Yet this podcast season turns downright addictive, as an eccentric artist becomes the confidant of an undetected murderer. Vulture Editors, Vulture, "This Week in True-Crime Podcasts: Murder at Chippendales," 12 Feb. 2021 Soon after, the eccentric and apparently sleepless billionaire tweeted a series of other messages about Bitcoin. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "Elon Musk trolls Bitcoin, causes novelty Dogecoin to soar," 21 Dec. 2020 All eight episodes fly by with a killer score, top-notch production values, and spot-on performances from all involved, especially the scene-stealing Jodi Long as an eccentric and wise great-aunt. Rochelle O'gorman, The Christian Science Monitor, "Holiday TV shows bring the comfy and cozy – and better reflect society," 4 Dec. 2020 Cartoon bananas, Surrealist lips, apocalyptic Hawaiian florals, kitschy tail fins with flames — Miuccia Prada is known for her eccentric prints and patterns. New York Times, "A Famous Prada Print, Back With a Twist," 28 Jan. 2021 Think of this as the more eccentric cousin to the puff sleeve. Marykate Boylan, Town & Country, "The Best 80s Trends Making a Comeback Now," 27 Jan. 2021 Dreadlocks, terminology the Army says is tied to American slavery, will now be referred to as locs, and terms including eccentric, faddish, and Mohawk, which takes its name from the Mohawk Nation, will also be removed. Michella Oré, Glamour, "The U.S. Army Is Updating Its Grooming Policy to Address Lack of Inclusion," 27 Jan. 2021 Mosseri found a way to thread between the film’s eccentric, comic elements and the slow-burning romance between Wood and Rodriguez. Tim Greiving, Los Angeles Times, "Emile Mosseri gets to the heart of two films with his romantic and dreamlike scores," 25 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Hiaasen’s humorous crime thrillers are set in Florida and feature casts of eccentric, sometimes grotesque, characters and satirize aspects of American popular culture. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "The Fast Forward 2020 Winter Bookies reading list," 4 Jan. 2021 In the houndsman community that the agents infiltrated, Williams was the eccentric, but undisputed, expert. Hal Herring, Field & Stream, "F&S Classics: Takedown," 27 Dec. 2020 Delivering performances both profound and eccentric, the actress has refused to be pinned down or defined throughout her nearly half-century career. Frank Bruni Photographs By Craig Mcdean, New York Times, "Sigourney Weaver," 19 Oct. 2020 This category loves awarding the stars of eccentric, arty comedies. Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, "Emmys 2020: Who should win, and who will win," 15 Sep. 2020 Ordinarily, such talk could be dismissed as the ramblings of an elderly vain, pompous eccentric who had spent rather too much time convincing himself of his own wisdom (Schwab is 82). Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "A Useful Pandemic: Davos Launches New ‘Reset,’ this Time on the Back of COVID," 29 Oct. 2020 Glacial caves fill with water during the day and then freeze solid overnight, giving climatologists a limited window of time to drop in and study their eccentric, constantly shifting features. Purbita Saha, Popular Science, "Look inside the hidden world of Earth’s most beautiful caves," 23 Oct. 2020 Micah Mortimer, a 40-something eccentric, thrives on routine and rigidity — to the frustration of those around him, including his girlfriend. Angela Haupt, Washington Post, "15 feel-good books guaranteed to lift your spirits," 20 Oct. 2020 Cavill is perhaps an odd choice to play the eccentric, occasionally even obsequious and hubristic Holmes. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Enola Holmes is the feminist romp the Holmes canon needs: Review," 23 Sep. 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

20 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Eccentric.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eccentric. Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

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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 eccentric (audio) \ adverb

eccentric

noun

Medical Definition of eccentric (Entry 2 of 2)

: an eccentric individual

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