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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

History lays the blame at the feet of Ross Perot, the eccentric Texas billionaire who won no states but mopped up nearly 19% of the vote as an independent candidate. C. Boyden Gray, WSJ, "Bush’s Proud Domestic Legacy," 4 Dec. 2018 Diana Vreeland, Staggeringly Beautiful Diana Vreeland, who died in 1989, was the editor of Vogue and a true eccentric. New York Times, "This Summer, Smell Like Fruit Salad," 2 July 2018 Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge Phone design got a little eccentric this past year. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "2018 was a weird notch year — what’s next?," 18 Dec. 2018 Voters grew weary of the eccentric celebrity governor, and Mr. Brown lost a 1982 U.S. Senate campaign. Alejandro Lazo, WSJ, "The Mixed Ledger of Jerry Brown," 14 Dec. 2018 Within Nice itself, our readers voted Le Negresco, with its ocean-view suites and eccentric decor, which spans from French antiques to mod swivel chairs and, among the top hotels in France. Condé Nast Traveler, "La Compagnie Flight Deal: Business Class to the French Riviera for $1,200," 4 Dec. 2018 The Socrates Sculpture Park, right on the water, is an eccentric open-air museum and park where artists create sculptural works in an outdoor studio. New York Times, "Things to Do in NYC: Astoria for a Pool Day, and Open-Mic Night Plus Dumplings in Chinatown," 12 July 2018 Rihanna’s third Coachella look was also her most eccentric and over-the-top. Sarah Spellings, The Cut, "Rihanna Wore a Flask to Coachella," 17 Apr. 2018 Its eccentric, larger-than-life founder, Sacramento businessman Russ Solomon, was long known and admired for his passion for music, a quality that often trumped his business acumen. Benjamin Oreskes, latimes.com, "Essential California: The richest and the poorest in Congress," 6 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The interior exudes her usual vibe—call it downtown Downton (English eccentric with a dash of cool). Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "15 Best Places for Afternoon Tea in London," 3 Mar. 2018 Small town low-life Carter (Michael Raymond-James) teams up with June (Samaire Armstrong) along with assorted eccentrics to attempt a series of increasingly dubious bank robberies. Katie Walsh, latimes.com, "Caper comedy 'Carter & June' can't live up to Tarantino-influenced excess," 17 May 2018 Naturally, Aquarius Venus also gravitates towards eccentric, free-spirited, and rebellious individuals. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What the Position of Venus in Your Birth Chart Means for You," 31 July 2018 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

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 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" eccentric entry 1

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Last Updated

14 Jan 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

: 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

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