epi·​cen·​ter | \ ˈe-pi-ˌsen-tər \

Definition of epicenter

1 : the part of the earth's surface directly above the focus of an earthquake — compare hypocenter sense 1
2 : center sense 2a the epicenter of world finance

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from epicenter

epicentral \ ˌe-​pi-​ˈsen-​trəl \ 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

At the epicenter of the drive to control the Christian community in China is Henan, the cradle of Chinese civilization and the entry point for many of the earliest foreign missionaries. Yanan Wang, Fox News, "Christian heartland opens window into fight for China's soul," 7 Aug. 2018 Michael Clark and Gucci are joining forces, in a way, when the British dancer and choreographer performs at the Italian house’s hub, its cultural epicenter imagined as a place for all sorts of happenings and shenanigans. Mark Holgate, Vogue, "Michael Clark, the British Dancer Who Brought Punk to Classical Ballet, Will Perform at the Gucci Hub in Milan," 19 Sep. 2018 More than anything, the trade war is poised to underline another reality: Old energy is again dominant, but its epicenter is gravitating east. Chuin-wei Yap And Kara Dapena, WSJ, "Tariff Dispute Threatens China’s Thirst for U.S. Oil," 24 July 2018 Its epicenter is the Tubbs Fire’s ignition point, on a property that was ravaged. Lizzie Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, "Slow recovery, new kinship for community struck first by Tubbs Fire," 5 Mar. 2018 Due to the ongoing conflict in the region, the US government has decided it’s too dangerous to allow its top Ebola experts to work at the outbreak’s epicenter. Julia Belluz, Vox, "Why the Ebola outbreak in DRC is so difficult to contain," 2 Dec. 2018 The community is the epicenter of the fight against MS-13 violence on Long Island. Fox News, "Sessions calls family of MS-13 victim's mom killed by car," 16 Sep. 2018 GerbeaudThe grandest of them all, its gilded rooms on downtown Vörösmarty Square have been the epicenter of Budapest social life for a century and a half. András Szántó, Condé Nast Traveler, "Where to Eat, Stay, and Play in Budapest," 29 Aug. 2018 While Chicago remains the Democratic epicenter in Illinois, Democrats are also hoping to turn four red congressional districts blue this year. Tara Golshan, Vox.com, "Illinois results for every midterm race," 8 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'epicenter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of epicenter

1880, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for epicenter

New Latin epicentrum, from epi- + Latin centrum center

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about epicenter

Statistics for epicenter

Last Updated

21 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for epicenter

The first known use of epicenter was in 1880

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for epicenter



English Language Learners Definition of epicenter

: the part of the earth's surface that is directly above the place where an earthquake starts

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on epicenter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with epicenter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for epicenter

Spanish Central: Translation of epicenter

Nglish: Translation of epicenter for Spanish Speakers

Comments on epicenter

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


to gather or build up little by little

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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