uncanny

adjective
un·​can·​ny | \ ˌən-ˈka-nē How to pronounce uncanny (audio) \
uncannier; uncanniest

Definition of uncanny

1a : seeming to have a supernatural character or origin : eerie, mysterious
b : being beyond what is normal or expected : suggesting superhuman or supernatural powers an uncanny sense of direction
2 chiefly Scotland : severe, punishing

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Other Words from uncanny

uncannily \ ˌən-​ˈka-​nə-​lē How to pronounce uncannily (audio) \ adverb
uncanniness \ ˌən-​ˈka-​nē-​nəs How to pronounce uncanniness (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for uncanny

weird, eerie, uncanny mean mysteriously strange or fantastic. weird may imply an unearthly or supernatural strangeness or it may stress peculiarity or oddness. weird creatures from another world eerie suggests an uneasy or fearful consciousness that mysterious and malign powers are at work. an eerie calm preceded the bombing raid uncanny implies disquieting strangeness or mysteriousness. an uncanny resemblance between total strangers

Did You Know?

Weird and eerie are synonyms of uncanny, but there are subtle differences in the meanings of the three words. Weird may be used to describe something that is generally strange or out of the ordinary. Eerie suggests an uneasy or fearful consciousness that some kind of mysterious and malign powers are at work, while uncanny, which debuted in the 18th century, implies disquieting strangeness or mysteriousness. English also has a word canny, but canny and uncanny should not be interpreted as opposites. Canny, which first appeared in English in the 16th century, means "clever," "shrewd" or "prudent," as in "a canny lawyer" or "a canny investment."

Examples of uncanny in a Sentence

I was struck by his uncanny ability to communicate arcane, complex economic policy and by his punk-rock instinct to question the status quo. — Bono, Time, 18 Apr. 2005 To an economist, the 1990s bear an uncanny resemblance to two earlier decades: the 1920s in the United States and the 1980s in Japan. In all three decades, technological change produced extraordinary economic growth, leading to talk of a "new era" and triggering a bull market in stocks that terminated in a market collapse—widely regarded as the bursting of a speculative bubble. — Milton Friedman, Wall Street Journal, 22 Jan. 2002 As he approached quite close to the enclosure he saw an excited group surrounding the two fugitives, who, trembling with fright and exhaustion, were scarce able to recount the uncanny details of their adventure. — Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes, 1914 She could not teach herself to think favourably of Pansy, whose absence of initiative, of conversation, of personal claims, seemed to her, in a girl of twenty, unnatural and even uncanny. — Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady, 1881 She had an uncanny resemblance to someone I had seen before. She has an uncanny sense of direction. an uncanny ability to predict the weather
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Recent Examples on the Web

He was known for his sense of humor and an uncanny ability to impersonate people. CBS News, "What we know about the Texas mass shooting victims," 2 Sep. 2019 He was known for his sense of humor and an uncanny ability to impersonate people. Jeff Karoub, BostonGlobe.com, "Odessa shooting: Here’s what we know about the victims," 2 Sep. 2019 He was known for his sense of humor and an uncanny ability to impersonate people. Washington Post, "Mail carrier, high school student among dead in Texas attack," 2 Sep. 2019 Jim was a wonderful listener and had an uncanny ability to perfectly time a friendly barb that would cause the room to break into laughter. sun-sentinel.com, "Deaths in South Florida: 9/1," 1 Sep. 2019 Hester’s main weapon was his uncanny ability to change direction almost at full speed. Will Larkin, chicagotribune.com, "Ranking the 100 best Bears players ever: No. 19, Devin Hester," 18 Aug. 2019 Williamson’s draw is her uncanny ability to drive straight to the spiritual heart of the issues at hand. Kayla Bartsch, National Review, "Marianne Williamson Offers Priestly Wisdom for a Nation Adrift — Seriously," 12 Aug. 2019 From the start, Sui gained notice for her uncanny ability to mix disparate, obsessively researched references into harmonious splendor. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "Tour Anna Sui’s Stunning Greenwich Village Apartment," 7 Aug. 2019 Yet for all his stature – physical, financial and otherwise – Skaggs had an uncanny ability to never put himself above another. Josh Peter, USA TODAY, "100 best friends: Tyler Skaggs touched countless lives with big heart, sense of humor," 3 July 2019

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

1773, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Dictionary Entries near uncanny

uncanceled

uncandid

uncandor

uncanny

uncanonical

uncanonize

uncap

Statistics for uncanny

Last Updated

6 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for uncanny

The first known use of uncanny was in 1773

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More Definitions for uncanny

uncanny

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of uncanny

: strange or unusual in a way that is surprising or difficult to understand

uncanny

adjective
un·​can·​ny | \ ˌən-ˈka-nē How to pronounce uncanny (audio) \

Kids Definition of uncanny

1 : strange or unusual in a way that is surprising or mysterious an uncanny resemblance
2 : suggesting powers or abilities greater than normal an uncanny sense of direction

Other Words from uncanny

uncannily \ -​ˈka-​nə-​lē \ adverb They look uncannily similar.

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More from Merriam-Webster on uncanny

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with uncanny

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for uncanny

Spanish Central: Translation of uncanny

Nglish: Translation of uncanny for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of uncanny for Arabic Speakers

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