erratic

adjective
er·​rat·​ic | \ i-ˈra-tik How to pronounce erratic (audio) \

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

erratic

noun

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

Adjective

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

Choose the Right Synonym for erratic

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?

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

Adjective

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

Verg became worried after Delmar Scroughams, 83, grew angry and erratic earlier this year, waking up in the night and threatening to hit her. NBC News, "Unlocked And loaded: Families confront dementia and guns," 26 June 2018 And the Trump administration has sabotaged tech companies with harsh immigration limits and erratic trade policy. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Trump keeps threatening tech companies, but he’s terrible at following through," 29 Aug. 2018 But, of course, the bigger issue is what the switch will mean for an erratic foreign policy at a time when Trump faces critical decisions about the Iran nuclear deal, Russian aggression, and a possible summit with North Korea's leader. Trudy Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer, star-telegram, "Tillerson held the brake on Trump's reckless instincts | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 16 Mar. 2018 Many analysts worry that Trump’s erratic foreign policy will alienate America’s allies. Jeet Heer, New Republic, "Could This Madman Accidentally Bring Peace to the Korean Peninsula?," 9 Feb. 2018 With federal workers facing the prospect of missing a second paycheck, business inside the West Wing devolved to the early, erratic days of the administration. Kristina Peterson, WSJ, "Beyond the Shutdown: The Trump-Pelosi Dynamic Defines Washington," 25 Jan. 2019 Since the last update in 2015, there have been erratic changes that have surprised researchers. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Government Shutdown Is Messing with North," 15 Jan. 2019 Gyrth Rutan, of Sturbridge, was stopped Thursday in Gardiner by an officer investigating a report of an erratic driver along Interstate-295, Maine State Police said. Greg Norman, Fox News, "Man who killed himself with shotgun at Maine traffic stop had been 'talking about troubles,' friend says," 13 Aug. 2018 Chesna was investigating reports of an erratic driver and car crash. Sarah Betancourt, The Seattle Times, "Suspect in Massachusetts officer slaying pleads not guilty," 17 July 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, OregonLive.com, "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, OregonLive.com, "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

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

circa 1623, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for erratic

Adjective and Noun

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

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Learn More about erratic

Statistics for erratic

Last Updated

21 Apr 2019

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

erratic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of erratic

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

erratic

adjective
er·​rat·​ic | \ i-ˈra-tik How to pronounce erratic (audio) \

Kids Definition of erratic

: not consistent or regular erratic behavior erratic movements

erratic

adjective
er·​rat·​ic | \ ir-ˈat-ik How to pronounce erratic (audio) \

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

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