out·​land·​ish ˌau̇t-ˈlan-dish How to pronounce outlandish (audio)
: of or relating to another country : foreign
saw many outlandish animals at the zoo
: strikingly out of the ordinary : bizarre
an outlandish costume
Her book is filled with outlandish characters.
spun some outlandish tales
: exceeding proper or reasonable limits or standards
workers complain of outlandish hoursJoan E. Rigdon
outlandish government specifications
: remote from civilization
no other young men foolish enough to offer to go to such an outlandish stationGeog. Jour.
outlandishly adverb
outlandishness noun

Did you know?

For some, the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side of the fence—it may also be very, very strange. The side-eye that skeptical sorts cast toward visitors from parts yonder is embedded in the history of the ancient word outlandish. In Old English someone described as “outlandish” came from an outland, i.e., a foreign land. Within a few hundred years, outlandish had broadened in use to describe anything unfamiliar or strange. It’s now commonly applied to things—especially things people do, wear, or say—that are strikingly out of the ordinary, or even just too-too—that is, too far beyond reasonable or proper limits or standards. But lest you mistake us for equating outlandish with wrong or bad, heed the words of Tony Stark (as played by Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man) when addressing speculation that he is secretly a superhero: “That would be outlandish… and fantastic.”

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of outlandish in a Sentence

She fills her books with outlandish characters. The actress wore an outlandish dress to the awards ceremony.
Recent Examples on the Web Isaacson at times interjects his own, sometimes dryly funny, counterpoints to some of Musk’s more outlandish claims. Will Oremus, Washington Post, 10 Sep. 2023 Calliope’s outlandish wardrobe augmented the comedy. Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, 9 Sep. 2023 People won’t need outlandish ingredients or kitchen equipment, just the basics. Wire Services, Dallas News, 8 Sep. 2023 Wednesday’s auction included 60 lots ranging from outlandish stage ensembles to blue-chip art to iconic instruments. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 7 Sep. 2023 In this economy, the one with the most clicks wins, and the one with the most outlandish take gets the most clicks. Chris Vognar, Los Angeles Times, 5 Sep. 2023 Throughout his career, Lee won 119 games and struck out 713 batters as many fans took a liking to his outlandish personality. Sean Neumann, Peoplemag, 1 Sep. 2023 Photo: Getty Images As her career began to skyrocket, Gaga’s ensembles grew more outlandish and avant-garde. Christian Allaire, Vogue, 23 Aug. 2023 Eastman, a conservative attorney who once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, played a key role in developing an outlandish legal strategy to try to help Trump stay in power by using the vice president’s ceremonial role overseeing the election certification proceeding. Holly Bailey, Amy Gardner, Patrick Marley and Jon Swaine, The Washington Post, Anchorage Daily News, 15 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of outlandish was before the 12th century


Dictionary Entries Near outlandish

Cite this Entry

“Outlandish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/outlandish. Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


out·​land·​ish (ˈ)au̇t-ˈlan-dish How to pronounce outlandish (audio)
: of strange appearance or manner : bizarre
an outlandish costume
outlandishly adverb
outlandishness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on outlandish

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