peculiar

adjective
pe·​cu·​liar | \ pi-ˈkyül-yər How to pronounce peculiar (audio) \

Definition of peculiar

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : characteristic of only one person, group, or thing : distinctive … a drowsy fervour of manner and tone which was quite peculiar to her.— Thomas Hardy
2 : different from the usual or normal:
a : special, particular a matter of peculiar interest
b : odd, curious It seems peculiar that she would leave town without telling anybody.
c : eccentric, unusual The play had a zany plot and very peculiar characters.

peculiar

noun
pe·​cu·​liar | \ pi-ˈkyül-yər How to pronounce peculiar (audio) \

Definition of peculiar (Entry 2 of 2)

: something exempt from ordinary jurisdiction especially : a church or parish exempt from the jurisdiction of the ordinary in whose territory it lies

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Other Words from peculiar

Adjective

peculiarly adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for peculiar

Adjective

characteristic, individual, peculiar, distinctive mean indicating a special quality or identity. characteristic applies to something that distinguishes or identifies a person or thing or class. responded with her characteristic wit individual stresses qualities that distinguish one from all other members of the same kind or class. a highly individual writing style peculiar applies to qualities possessed only by a particular individual or class or kind and stresses rarity or uniqueness. an eccentricity that is peculiar to the British distinctive indicates qualities distinguishing and uncommon and often superior or praiseworthy. a distinctive aura of grace and elegance

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

Peculiar Has Latin Roots

Adjective

Peculiar comes from Latin peculiaris, an adjective meaning "privately owned" or "special" that is derived from the word for "property," peculium. Those words are cognate with pecu, a word for "cattle" that is also etymologically linked to a few English words related to money. Among these are pecuniary ("of or relating to money"), peculate ("to embezzle"), and impecunious ("having very little or no money"). Peculiar borrowed the Latin meanings of peculiaris, but it eventually came to refer to qualities possessed only by a particular individual, group, or thing. That sense is commonly followed by the preposition to, as in "a custom peculiar to America." In time, peculiar was being used specifically for unusual qualities, as well as the individuals that possessed them, which led to the word's "odd," "curious," and "eccentric" senses.

Examples of peculiar in a Sentence

Adjective As military coups go, this was a most peculiar one, bloodless, and in Bangkok at least quite popular. — Ian Buruma, New York Review, 1 Mar. 2007 Right about then, Ensberg got himself back on the field, where a peculiar thing happened: he stopped thinking. — Tom Friend, ESPN, 28 Aug. 2006 I smell again the peculiar and dynamic smell of Gillespie's science room. — Muriel Spark, Curriculum Vitae, (1992) 1993 It seems peculiar that he would leave town and not tell anybody. The dog's peculiar behavior worried them. She got a peculiar feeling when the phone rang. She had a peculiar expression on her face.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective There was something peculiar, however, about the way these burglars seemed to be traveling to and getting away from the crime scenes, a missing detail that might help investigators explain how the crew was able to cover such a huge territory. Geoff Manaugh, The Atlantic, "The Rise and Fall of an All-Star Crew of Jewel Thieves," 17 Dec. 2019 Or is there something peculiar about how protons interact with muons, compared with their behavior around electrons? Dan Falk, Scientific American, "Ultraprecise Measurement Pinpoints the Proton’s Size," 28 Nov. 2019 Then, these New Yorkers heard something peculiar about four minutes later. Time, "The Day Clocks Changed Across America: What Happened When the U.S. Adopted Standardized Time," 18 Nov. 2019 In this case, investigators noticed something peculiar about the batteries. Andrew Blankstein, NBC News, "Trail to Austin bombing suspect combined high-tech and old-fashioned techniques," 21 Mar. 2018 Let’s turn our attention from the hypocrites and apparent monarchists in the Capitol, to the peculiar and embarrassing subset of gay Americans who proudly support Trump’s reelection. BostonGlobe.com, "Hey Log Cabin Republicans, Trump is not your friend.," 22 Jan. 2020 The video has a peculiar and convoluted path that spans a decade and a half, covers thousands of miles, and includes shadowy characters known only by pseudonyms. Tim Mcmillan, Popular Mechanics, "The Tale of the Tape," 17 Jan. 2020 Reporter Maggie Menderski always seems to find the best peculiar and eccentric stories. Kristina Goetz, The Courier-Journal, "Want to read a great story? The Courier Journal recaps our best narrative work of 2019," 19 Dec. 2019 And yet, over seven minutes into Saturday’s game the RedHawks held a peculiar and improbable 5-0 lead. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Ohio State football responds to slow start in 76-5 blowout of Miami of Ohio," 21 Sep. 2019

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

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1562, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for peculiar

Adjective and Noun

Middle English peculier, from Latin peculiaris of private property, special, from peculium private property, from pecu cattle; akin to Latin pecus cattle — more at fee

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Time Traveler for peculiar

Time Traveler

The first known use of peculiar was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Peculiar.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/peculiar. Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for peculiar

peculiar

adjective
How to pronounce peculiar (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of peculiar

: not usual or normal
British, informal : not well : somewhat ill

peculiar

adjective
pe·​cu·​liar | \ pi-ˈkyül-yər How to pronounce peculiar (audio) \

Kids Definition of peculiar

1 : of or limited to only one person, thing, or place It's a custom peculiar to England.
2 : different from the usual : odd

Other Words from peculiar

peculiarly adverb

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Comments on peculiar

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