adjective out·land·ish \ ˌau̇t-ˈlan-dish \
|Updated on: 16 Aug 2018

Definition of outlandish

1 : of or relating to another country : foreign
  • saw many outlandish animals at the zoo
2 a : strikingly out of the ordinary : bizarre
  • an outlandish costume
  • Her book is filled with outlandish characters.
  • spun some outlandish tales
b : exceeding proper or reasonable limits or standards
  • workers complain of outlandish hours
  • —Joan E. Rigdon
  • outlandish government specifications
3 : remote from civilization
  • no other young men foolish enough to offer to go to such an outlandish station
  • Geog. Jour.





outlandish was our Word of the Day on 10/18/2010. Hear the podcast!

Examples of outlandish in a Sentence

  1. She fills her books with outlandish characters.

  2. The actress wore an outlandish dress to the awards ceremony.

Recent Examples of outlandish from the Web

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

Did You Know?

In olden times, English speakers used the phrase outlandish man to refer to a foreigner - or, one who came from an outland, which originally meant "a foreign land." From here, outlandish broadened in usage from a word meaning "from another land" to one describing something unfamiliar or strange. Dress was a common early target for the adjective - Henry Fielding, in Tom Jones (1749), writes of a woman who was drest in one of your outlandish Garments. Nowadays, the word can be applied to anything that strikes us as out of the ordinary, as in the description of one man’s outlandish proposal to replace the aging Tappan Zee Bridge with a seven-mile tunnel, from the New York Times, September 16, 2001.

First Known Use of outlandish

before 12th century

in the meaning defined at sense 1

See Words from the same year
NEW! Time Traveler

Synonym Discussion of outlandish

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

OUTLANDISH Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of outlandish for English Language Learners

  • : very strange or unusual : extremely different from what is normal or expected

OUTLANDISH Defined for Kids


adjective out·land·ish \ au̇t-ˈlan-dish \

Definition of outlandish for Students

: very strange or unusual : bizarre
  • outlandish behavior
  • outlandish clothes

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


subject to rapid or unexpected change

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens-painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!