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 The peculiar patterns have long captivated humans, sparking myths of fairies or deities creating them. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, "How Forming ‘Fairy Circles’ May Help Salt Marshes Adapt to Climate Change," 25 Feb. 2021 The 2009 Golden Globes were a peculiar wrinkle in that year’s awards season. Joe Reid, Vulture, "A Who’s Who of Who Hasn’ts: 10 Surprising Golden Globes Losers," 24 Feb. 2021 And this has been done by Thousands who have never paid the least regard to that wonderful order & regularity with which Nature has disposed these singular productions and assigned to each Class its peculiar Stratum. Jenny Uglow, The New York Review of Books, "The Reader of Rocks," 23 Feb. 2021 Their peculiar brand of online hyper-reality is presented almost as a curio: exhibit A of what Macdonald didn't ask for, but a part of today's reality nonetheless. Thomas Page, CNN, "'They're braver than I am': How Oscar-winner Kevin Macdonald turned 300,000 videos into his latest film," 23 Feb. 2021 The home, which Lebedev bought in 2007, reflects his own peculiar mix of Old and New World interests, with works by modern artists set against acres of mahogany and silk damask. Simon Usborne, Town & Country, "The Dizzying Social Rise of Russian Scion Evgeny Lebedev," 21 Feb. 2021 In more recent years Judge Garland has come to occupy a peculiar place in Washington life: someone best known for the job he was denied. Mark Leibovich, New York Times, "Merrick Garland Faces Resurgent Peril After Years Fighting Extremism," 20 Feb. 2021 This highlights a peculiar power of the pandemic and the resilience of children. Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, USA TODAY, "What is scaffold parenting? It could be the key to help kids adjust to post-pandemic life," 18 Feb. 2021 The rock was also lined with wispy filaments, perhaps a component of the bacterial mats, or perhaps a peculiar animal known as a hydroid. Matt Simon, Wired, "Scientists Accidentally Discover Strange Creatures Under a Half Mile of Ice," 15 Feb. 2021

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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Statistics for peculiar

Last Updated

1 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Peculiar.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/peculiar. Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for peculiar

peculiar

adjective

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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