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

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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 The waterway would make Chicago the epicenter of trade in the Midwest, and speculators bought up parcels then resold them for enormous profit. Andrew Johnston, Chicago Tribune, 11 July 2024 There are countless wine bars; Copenhagen is the natural wine epicenter of Europe. Arati Menon, Condé Nast Traveler, 10 July 2024 Critically, Chinese military planes routinely patrol the Taiwan Strait, the epicenter of competition between China and the United States. Jane Perlez, Foreign Affairs, 5 July 2024 China, for its part, also reiterated its claims over the waterway, including the Second Thomas Shoal, which has emerged as an epicenter of the dispute. Cliff Venzon and Andreo Calonzo / Bloomberg, TIME, 3 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for epicenter 

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 22 Jul. 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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