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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But there was another distinction, peculiar to the times, yes, but also positive in terms of access. Glenn Whipp, Los Angeles Times, "Oscars 2021: How ‘Nomadland’ won best picture," 25 Apr. 2021 What remains surprising and entertaining is the furious overreaction to trivial arguments peculiar to online debates. Peter Suciu, Forbes, "Morrissey Offered Response On Facebook To The Simpson's Quilloughby Parody," 19 Apr. 2021 Chief Nisleit, meanwhile, is in an peculiar position. Michael Smolens Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Gloria pushes changes in SDPD amid national focus on law enforcement," 14 Apr. 2021 But the novel’s beautifully peculiar narration aerates and complicates this fatal family fable, and turns plot into deep meditation. James Wood, The New Yorker, "A Family at Odds Reveals a Nation in the Throes," 12 Apr. 2021 Ben Hania has found an exciting conceit with which to probe the peculiar status of statelessness in the modern world, one where art and commerce can move unchecked but humans can’t. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, "The Man Who Sold His Skin," 9 Apr. 2021 Theaters seem to be evolving their own peculiar systems, with pre-attendance health questionnaires, idiosyncratic ticketing apps, entrance and exit protocols, document checks and seating arrangements. Washington Post, "I wondered what it would be like to be vaccinated and back in a theater. My panic lifted as soon as the lights went down.," 7 Apr. 2021 Soufflé, crème brûlée, quiche, mayonnaise, meringue: None of these delights (nor dozens of others) would be possible without the egg’s peculiar alchemy. Sarah Karnasiewicz, WSJ, "Ultimate Egg Recipes: A Guide to Spring’s Simple Luxury for Easter and Beyond," 1 Apr. 2021 But the idea of this school and this seemingly underwritten chapter in history was intriguing enough to set her on a journey researching the peculiar institution that operated in plain sight when anti-German sentiment was quite high. Lindsey Bahr, Detroit Free Press, "Thriller ‘Six Minutes to Midnight’ unfolds at a pro-Nazi boarding school," 26 Mar. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about peculiar

Time Traveler for peculiar

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about peculiar

Statistics for peculiar

Last Updated

30 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Peculiar.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/peculiar. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on peculiar

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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