er·rat·ic | \i-ˈra-tik \

Definition of erratic 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having no fixed course : wandering an erratic comet

2a : characterized by lack of consistency, regularity, or uniformity erratic dieting keeps erratic hours

b : deviating from what is ordinary or standard : eccentric an erratic genius

3 : transported from an original resting place especially by a glacier an erratic boulder

4 archaic : nomadic



Definition of erratic (Entry 2 of 2)

: one that is erratic (see erratic entry 1) especially : a boulder or block of rock transported from its original resting place especially by a glacier

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Other Words from erratic


erratical \i-ˈra-ti-kəl \ adjective
erratically \i-ˈra-ti-k(ə-)lē \ adverb
erraticism \i-ˈra-tə-ˌsi-zəm \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for erratic


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?

Erratic can refer to literal "wandering". A missile that loses its guidance system may follow an erratic path, and a river with lots of twists and bends is said to have an erratic course. Erratic can also mean "inconsistent" or "irregular". So a stock market that often changes direction is said to be acting erratically; an erratic heartbeat can be cause for concern; and if your car idles erratically it may mean that something's wrong with the spark-plug wiring.

Examples of erratic in a Sentence


My sinker has been my most erratic pitch. And when your foundation pitch is lacking, you have to go to other pitches. My sinker has been in and out, but mostly out. — Orel Hershiser, in New York Times, 9 May 1999 In winning his two-month match in Yugoslavia against Boris Spassky, 10 games to five, Bobby Fischer was erratic, which was hardly surprising considering his two-decade layoff, but there were times when he played more brilliantly than anybody could have expected. Sports Illustrated, 16 Nov. 1992 Over the centuries, in erratic ways, men have constructed a world in which they are relatively free of many kinds of threatening or harmful stimuli … — B. F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity, (1971) 1972 so far your effort to land a summer job has been very erratic because of your erratic attendance at practice, you're in danger of being cut from the team
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Despite customer concerns about product stock and company viability after founder Brandon Truaxe’s erratic Instagram content and latest open-letter allegations, the brand released several new launches today. Kathleen Hou, The Cut, "The Ordinary Is Still Making New Products," 13 June 2018 The Bruce Rondon reclamation project appears to have hit its expiration date as the White Sox designated the powerful, erratic right-hander for assignment on Wednesday. Phil Rogers,, "White Sox designate reliever Bruce Rondon for assignment, call up Jeanmar Gomez," 11 July 2018 The blaze, which threatened more than 800 structures, was partially contained, but fire officials were concerned about erratic winds later Monday. Colleen Slevin, Fox News, "Illegal fires ignite massive Colorado blazes, spur arrests," 10 July 2018 The blaze, which threatened more than 800 structures, was partially contained, but fire officials were concerned about erratic winds later Monday. Colleen Slevin, The Seattle Times, "Illegal fires ignite massive Colorado blazes, spur arrests," 10 July 2018 Trooper Daniel Hanafin was dispatched to the scene by another trooper, Michael Benevento, who received an earlier 911 call about DeWolfe’s erratic driving but didn’t broadcast the report over the police radio. Shelley Murphy,, "Drugged driver charged with homicide 10 months after fatal crash," 10 July 2018 Add in the erratic nature of fireworks — that they are only used once or twice a year and are usually unfamiliar to the people lighting them — and there is ample room for accidents to happen. Michael Rivlin,, "Philly hand surgeons on devastating fireworks injuries: 'There is nothing left to fix'," 4 July 2018 Verg became worried after Delmar Scroughams, 83, grew angry and erratic this year, waking up in the night and threatening to hit her. Jonel Aleccia And Melissa Bailey, USA TODAY, "Unlocked and loaded: Families confront dementia and guns," 1 July 2018 Kirk and Spock travel back to 1930s to stop an erratic Bones from changing the past and thus obliterating the Federation's very existence. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "Harlan Ellison Turned Star Trek Into Something More. Could It Happen Again?," 29 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

One of the biggest boulders is now enshrined at the Erratic Rock State Natural Site in McMinnville, a small state park that aims to educate visitors about these odd erratics. Jamie Hale,, "Erratic Rock a small reminder of the big floods that shaped Oregon," 6 June 2017 Erratics are also found in the Columbia River Gorge. Jamie Hale,, "Erratic Rock a small reminder of the big floods that shaped Oregon," 6 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'erratic.' 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 erratic


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1623, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for erratic


Middle English, from Latin erraticus, from erratus, past participle of errare — see err


see erratic entry 1

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Statistics for erratic

Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for erratic

The first known use of erratic was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for erratic



English Language Learners Definition of erratic

: acting, moving, or changing in ways that are not expected or usual : not consistent or regular


er·rat·ic | \i-ˈra-tik \

Kids Definition of erratic

: not consistent or regular erratic behavior erratic movements


er·rat·ic | \ir-ˈat-ik \

Medical Definition of erratic 

1 : characterized by lack of consistency, regularity, or uniformity an erratic pulse

2 : deviating from what is ordinary or standard

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Comments on erratic

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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