epi·​cen·​ter ˈe-pi-ˌsen-tər How to pronounce epicenter (audio)
: the part of the earth's surface directly above the focus of an earthquake compare hypocenter sense 1
: center sense 2a
the epicenter of world finance
epicentral adjective

Did you know?

The meaning of epi- in epicenter is "over", so the epicenter of an earthquake lies over the center or "focus" of the quake. Epicenter can also refer to the centers of things that may seem in their own way as powerful—though not as destructive—as earthquakes. Wall Street, for example, might be said to lie at the epicenter of the financial world.

Examples of epicenter in a Sentence

by continually reinventing itself, Las Vegas has managed to remain a national epicenter for entertainment
Recent Examples on the Web Avdiivka had been an epicenter of fierce fighting for several months. Katya Soldak, Forbes, 19 Feb. 2024 Texas and Florida have been the epicenters of America’s recent book-banning movement. Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, 19 Feb. 2024 At the time, future fashion designer Victoria Beckham stood at the epicenter of pop culture, idolized by legions of young female fans, Lustig reported. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, 9 Feb. 2024 First, a speculative bonanza in real estate went spectacularly wrong, turning the city into the epicenter of a national foreclosure crisis. Peter S. Goodman Bridget Bennett, New York Times, 5 Feb. 2024 The Palomino Club in North Hollywood was once the West Coast’s epicenter of country music. Erin Osmon, Los Angeles Times, 30 Jan. 2024 The presentations showcased the global city’s status as the epicenter of high fashion. Kerane Marcellus, Essence, 26 Jan. 2024 Surviving Playboy and Finding Myself about her first encounter with the mythical epicenter of American hedonism. Susan Young, Peoplemag, 24 Jan. 2024 The epicenter was about 135 miles southeast of Kahului, the largest town on Maui, and about 215 miles from Honolulu. Rong-Gong Lin Ii, Los Angeles Times, 9 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'epicenter.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


New Latin epicentrum, from epi- + Latin centrum center

First Known Use

1880, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of epicenter was in 1880

Dictionary Entries Near epicenter

Cite this Entry

“Epicenter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epicenter. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


epi·​cen·​ter ˈep-i-ˌsent-ər How to pronounce epicenter (audio)
: the part of the earth's surface directly above the starting point of an earthquake

More from Merriam-Webster on epicenter

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