erratic

1 of 2

adjective

er·​rat·​ic i-ˈra-tik How to pronounce erratic (audio)
1
: having no fixed course : wandering
an erratic comet
2
a
: 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
erratical adjective
erratically adverb
erraticism noun

erratic

2 of 2

noun

: 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

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.

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

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Jobs with erratic or traditionally late work hours (like legislative staffers or newspaper reporters) would still be allowed to be contacted, provided that employers clearly spell out non-contact hours in worker contracts, or else compensate on-call time. Andrew Sheeler, Sacramento Bee, 3 Apr. 2024 Electricity, the subject of much teeth-sucking and dark humor, is expensive and erratic. Gaiutra Bahadur Keisha Scarville, New York Times, 30 Mar. 2024 Soon after Barrera left the casino around 9:15 a.m., other drivers reported her erratic driving. Bay Area News Group, The Mercury News, 6 Mar. 2024 But his erratic behavior, starting with punching Jordan Poole before last season, had taken a darker turn. Danny Emerman, The Mercury News, 24 Mar. 2024 His strike zone was erratic and in the first inning was guilty of umpire interference when Padres catcher Luis Campusano elbowed him in the mask while trying to throw out Betts stealing second. Steve Henson, Los Angeles Times, 20 Mar. 2024 The possibility of Elon Musk being unpredictable and erratic, yeah. Jason Sheeler, Peoplemag, 17 Mar. 2024 Eventually, as Musk’s behavior became more erratic in the last few years, the relationship between the two became more strained. Bypaolo Confino, Fortune, 28 Feb. 2024 Elena has ordered every empty space to be packed with dehumidifiers, and her demands on the palace staff — Andrea Riseborough plays stern and increasingly frazzled household coordinator Agnes — are growing ever more erratic. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 Feb. 2024
Noun
Car-sized erratics embedded in ice were carried both within the lake area and as much as 500 miles from the lake by flood waters—some of the erratics weighed up to eight and a half tons. Keely Larson, Ars Technica, 4 Jan. 2023 Speidel was inspired to create these artworks from her fascination with glacial erratics, a type of rock that once was carried inside glacial ice and traveled hundreds of miles sometimes across thousands of years to its current resting spot. Nickole Kerner Bobley, Houston Chronicle, 25 Apr. 2020 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, 6 June 2017 Erratics are also found in the Columbia River Gorge. Jamie Hale, OregonLive.com, 6 June 2017

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

Word History

Etymology

Adjective and Noun

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

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

circa 1623, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near erratic

Cite this Entry

“Erratic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/erratic. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

erratic

adjective
er·​rat·​ic
ir-ˈat-ik
1
: marked by lack of consistency or regularity
erratic dieting
2
: not of the usual or normal kind : eccentric
erratic behavior
erratically
-ˈat-i-k(ə-)lē
adverb

Medical Definition

erratic

adjective
er·​rat·​ic ir-ˈat-ik How to pronounce erratic (audio)
1
: characterized by lack of consistency, regularity, or uniformity
an erratic pulse
2
: deviating from what is ordinary or standard

More from Merriam-Webster on erratic

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