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

Other Words from uncanny

uncannily \ ˌən-​ˈka-​nə-​lē How to pronounce uncanny (audio) \ adverb
uncanniness \ ˌən-​ˈka-​nē-​nəs How to pronounce uncanny (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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web Stu doesn’t know how to express his need for love, yet his grudge against the world is uncanny. Armond White, National Review, 20 Apr. 2022 That uncanny ability led to the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Detroit native collecting nine total interceptions – including returning two for touchdowns – and not allowing a receiving touchdown during his three-year Cincinnati career. Keith Jenkins, The Enquirer, 26 Apr. 2022 Because of this, consumers have recently found even more creative ways to incorporate chocolate and candy into important moments because of their uncanny ability to bring a little fun to those experiences. John Downs, Fortune, 24 Apr. 2022 The Lighthouse, is less expected, though his imprint is all over the film — in its grand monologues and strange mythologies, the baroque, uncanny sense of world-building. Leah Greenblatt, EW.com, 11 Apr. 2022 Over the decades, this uncanny similarity has also sparked rumours of behind-the-scene industry politics that allegedly stymied Kalyanpur’s career. Harish Pullanoor, Quartz, 13 Feb. 2022 But Zauner and her project Japanese Breakfast always showcased an uncanny sense of pop-sensibility. Troy L. Smith, cleveland, 29 Dec. 2021 Incredibly, Schumpeter described this drift with uncanny accuracy almost a hundred years ago. Kevin A. Hassett, National Review, 21 Apr. 2022 The combination of black-and-white imagery and a square-frame 1:19:1 aspect ratio inspires an uncanny feeling of claustrophobia. NBC News, 20 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of uncanny

1773, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Learn More About uncanny

Time Traveler for uncanny

Time Traveler

The first known use of uncanny was in 1773

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near uncanny

uncandor

uncanny

uncanonical

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for uncanny

Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Uncanny.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uncanny. Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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

More Definitions for uncanny

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on uncanny

Nglish: Translation of uncanny for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of uncanny for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

True or False

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

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!