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 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
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Recent Examples on the Web Along with proofreading, interior decorating—the advanced kind, with color swatches—and the all-around uncanny ability to live a lifestyle several rungs above her income by extensively planning. Seija Rankin, EW.com, "Sure I'll Be Your Black Friend," 29 Apr. 2021 True to Bentley's racing heritage, the Flying Spur has the uncanny ability to transform from a rolling day spa to a five-star amusement ride. David Beard, Car and Driver, "Tested: 2021 Bentley Flying Spur V-8 Oozes of Coin," 28 Apr. 2021 In publishing, big voices have always ruled the day, but Morrison had an uncanny knack for hearing potential at rest on the page. The Editors, Curbed, "Remember the Office?," 26 Apr. 2021 Peirson had an uncanny knack for spotting the slightest details in a play, and often would share those details to viewers even before the broadcast replayed the video on the screen. BostonGlobe.com, "John Peirson, former Bruins player and broadcaster, dead at 95," 17 Apr. 2021 Since the iPod came to market, Apple has created a significant string of successful products and services that suggests Apple has an uncanny ability to prosper. Tim Bajarin, Forbes, "AirTags Are Apple’s Next Billion Dollar Business," 20 Apr. 2021 Baylor had an uncanny ability to hang in mid-air indefinitely, inventing shots and improvising deception along his flight path. Greg Beacham, Anchorage Daily News, "Elgin Baylor, Lakers great and aerialist pioneer, dies at 86," 23 Mar. 2021 Yet GM David Stearns and his staff also possess an uncanny ability to sense exactly what their clubs need, and how vulnerable their opponents are, and react accordingly. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Jackie Bradley Jr. is Brewers' latest surprise - and another sign the club cares about winning," 5 Mar. 2021 Linen sheets are renowned for their uncanny ability to keep you cool during hot summer nights, in part because of their moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial attributes — great news for sweaty sleepers. Chelsea Stone, CNN Underscored, "The maker of our favorite linen sheets just launched a line of linen loungewear," 7 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for uncanny

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The first known use of uncanny was in 1773

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Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Uncanny.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uncanny. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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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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