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 Because of this, the tunnel smells peculiar and fetid, like a malodorous cheese (think Stilton or Limburger) but with an earthy finish and notes of sweaty socks and horse manure. Madeline Ostrander, Smithsonian Magazine, "In a Tunnel Beneath Alaska, Scientists Race to Understand Disappearing Permafrost," 4 May 2020 Because of this, the tunnel smells peculiar and fetid, like a malodorous cheese (think Stilton or Limburger) but with an earthy finish and notes of sweaty socks and horse manure. Madeline Ostrander, Smithsonian Magazine, "In a Tunnel Beneath Alaska, Scientists Race to Understand Disappearing Permafrost," 4 May 2020 Because of this, the tunnel smells peculiar and fetid, like a malodorous cheese (think Stilton or Limburger) but with an earthy finish and notes of sweaty socks and horse manure. Madeline Ostrander, Wired, "Want to Study Permafrost? Get It Before It's Gone," 2 May 2020 These peculiar, interlocking stones in Northern Ireland have made the Giants Causeway a popular natural wonder. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "See Buckingham Palace, Stonehenge, and More on This Virtual Trip Around the United Kingdom," 11 Apr. 2020 Among the English intelligentsia of the 1920s, his opinion had peculiar and decisive authority. Richard Davenport-hines, WSJ, "‘Frank Ramsey’ Review: The Most Genial Genius," 27 Mar. 2020 With their long, Dale Chihuly-ish tendrils, the plants of the genus Tillandsia make a lovely, if peculiar, addition to a shelf of trinkets. Crispin Long, The New Yorker, "The Alien Minimalism of Air Plants," 18 Dec. 2019 More peculiar collisions might be waiting among the dozens of recorded events that researchers have yet to analyze. Adrian Cho, Science | AAAS, "Gravitational waves reveal unprecedented collision of heavy and light black holes," 18 Apr. 2020 Now that weeks have passed, I am recovered from that peculiar respiratory illness. Jenna Birch, Health.com, "Did You Already Have Coronavirus Without Knowing It? Experts Explain Why That's Possible," 7 Apr. 2020

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

21 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Peculiar.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/peculiar. Accessed 4 Jun. 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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