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 queerness 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

During the performance, Twitter went wild as viewers posted side-by-side photos of their furniture and The Voice judge's outfit because the resemblance was truly uncanny. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Adam Levine’s Super Bowl Halftime Show Attire Really Resembled Vintage Furniture," 4 Feb. 2019 While correlation does not imply causation, the parallels between Trump’s words and the violent actions that follow are uncanny. Zach Schermele, Teen Vogue, "Donald Trump's Ideology Is Supporting Political Violence," 30 Oct. 2018 My idea is to create an experience that is uncanny. Rebecca Jennings, Vox, "The Halloween experience in 2018 is less spooky and more selfies.," 22 Oct. 2018 Sarah Staudinger is banking on her uncanny ability to create cool, collectible accessories with a new line of footwear, launching today. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, "Staud Launches Shoes and We're in Love," 27 Feb. 2019 Welcome to Marwen returns him to the uncanny valley to adapt the real-life story of Mark Hogancamp, subject of the 2010 documentary Marwencol. Jesse Hassenger, The Verge, "Welcome to Marwen is Robert Zemeckis’ most revealing movie — and his worst," 20 Dec. 2018 D’Arcy Carden, who plays Janet, a humanoid entity with limitless knowledge, on NBC’s The Good Place discusses the challenges and comic possibilities that exist in the uncanny valley. Byrd Pinkerton, Vox, "13 of Vox’s best podcast episodes of 2018," 6 Dec. 2018 These sequences, with lengthy focuses on emotional human faces, do ebb and flow into and out of the uncanny valley. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Spider-Man PS4 review: Does whatever a spider can—and then some," 4 Sep. 2018 But their fun house scale — cups, umbrella, and all are each about the size of an ottoman — and slightly abstracted color are enough to put them into a strange virtual territory somewhere between trompe l’oeil and the uncanny valley. Will Heinrich, New York Times, "What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week," 13 June 2018

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

22 Mar 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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