center

1 of 2

noun

cen·​ter ˈsen-tər How to pronounce center (audio)
ˈse-nər
1
a
: the point around which a circle or sphere is described
broadly : a point that is related to a geometrical figure in such a way that for any point on the figure there is another point on the figure such that a straight line joining the two points is bisected by the original point

called also center of symmetry

b
: the center of the circle inscribed in a regular (see regular entry 1 sense 3b) polygon
2
a
: a point, area, person, or thing that is most important or pivotal in relation to an indicated activity, interest, or condition
a railroad center
the center of the controversy
b
: a source from which something originates
a propaganda center
c
: a group of neurons having a common function
respiratory center
d
: a region of concentrated population
an urban center
e
: a facility providing a place for a particular activity or service
a day-care center
a shopping center
a medical center
3
a
: the middle part (as of the forehead or a stage)
b often capitalized
(1)
: a grouping of political figures holding moderate views especially between those of conservatives and liberals
(2)
: the views of such politicians
The party's new policies show a shift toward the center.
(3)
: the adherents of such views
4
a
: a player occupying a middle position on a team: such as
(1)
: the football player in the middle of a line who passes the ball between his legs to a back to start a down
(2)
: the usually tallest player on a basketball team who usually plays near the basket
5
a
: either of two tapered rods which support work in a lathe or grinding machine and about or with which the work revolves
b
: a conical recess in the end of work (such as a shaft) for receiving such a center
centerless
ˈsen-tər-ləs How to pronounce center (audio)
ˈse-nər-
adjective

center

2 of 2

verb

centered; centering ˈsen-t(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce center (audio)
ˈse-nər-iŋ

transitive verb

1
: to place or fix at or around a center or central area
center the picture on the wall
2
: to give a central focus or basis
centers her hopes on her son
the plot was centered on espionage
3
: to adjust (things, such as lenses) so that the axes coincide
4
a
: to pass (a ball or puck) from either side toward the middle of the playing area
b
: to hand or pass (a football) backward between one's legs to a back (see back entry 1 sense 3) to start a down
5
: to play center (see center entry 1 sense 4) on
center a line in hockey

intransitive verb

: to have a specified center : focus
What prepositions are used with center?: Usage Guide

The intransitive verb center is most commonly used with the prepositions in, on, at, and around. At appears to be favored in mathematical contexts; the others are found in a broad range of contexts. Center around, a standard idiom, has often been objected to as illogical. The logic on which the objections are based is irrelevant, since center around is an idiom and idioms have their own logic. Center on is currently more common in edited prose, and revolve around and similar verbs are available if you want to avoid center around.

Example Sentences

Noun the center of the room The staircase is in the center of the building. They are at the center of a furious debate over whether or not to expand the city's public transportation system. The vaccine is being tested at several medical centers around the country. Verb Center the picture on the wall. centered administrative duties under the command of a single person See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The university's student health center already stocked emergency contraception but has limited operating hours. Christine Fernando, USA TODAY, 1 Feb. 2023 Notre Dame Academy girls' hockey John Findley (right) chats with Lucy Delgallo (left) and Sarah Francis (center) before the start of a recent practice at The Bavis Ice Arena. Julia Yohe, BostonGlobe.com, 31 Jan. 2023 The Horrible Bosses star popped the question to Wilde with a 1920s Parisian engagement ring that featured a circle of emeralds around a center diamond — one that Wilde told Marie Claire Sudeikis had been carrying around for a month. Nicole Briese, Peoplemag, 31 Jan. 2023 There are also new 22-inch wheels wrapped with Continental Sport Contact 7 tires, and Audi has retuned the RS7's center differential as well as the programming for its selectable drive modes. Eric Stafford, Car and Driver, 31 Jan. 2023 Intel last week reported a 33% decline in data-center sales for the same period. Robert Wall, WSJ, 31 Jan. 2023 Hamburg, which has been lavished with money by Körber’s foundation, has a school, street and sprawling new center named for him. Lev Golinkin, CNN, 31 Jan. 2023 The Scottsdale entertainment center is hosting a watch party with multiple experience options for Super Bowl 57. Endia Fontanez, The Arizona Republic, 31 Jan. 2023 Also nearby are the El Corazon Senior Center, the aquatics center, and the 22-field SoCal Sports soccer complex, which hosts soccer, lacross and rugby events for teams from throughout the Southwest. San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Jan. 2023
Verb
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that helps the body withstand and adapt to stress, returning us to center. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 21 Dec. 2022 Jackson Powers-Johnson, who initially took over at right guard before moving to center last week, was the right guard for the starting offense during pregame. oregonlive, 19 Nov. 2022 Luke Glendening and Vladislav Namestnikov could have shifted to center if the Stars wanted to scratch one of their centers. Dallas News, 10 Apr. 2022 Talks are expected to center on the coronavirus, climate change, the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Africa, trade and more, according to White House officials. Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY, 11 Dec. 2022 Talks are expected to center on the coronavirus, climate change, the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Africa, trade and more, according to White House officials. Aamer Madhani, Chicago Tribune, 11 Dec. 2022 The Reds put their first two batters on base in the eighth inning, Aristides Aquino and Alejo Lopez, through a soft ground ball that snuck through a defensive shift and a bloop single to center. The Enquirer, 26 Aug. 2022 The Cardinals padded their lead on a Tommy Edman run-scoring single to center an inning later. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, 21 Aug. 2022 Steven Kwan, who had three hits in the first game, tied it with a bloop single to center. Paul Hoynes, cleveland, 23 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'center.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English centre, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin centrum "point of the stationary leg of a pair of compasses, midpoint of a circle or sphere," borrowed from Greek kéntron "sting, goad, point, stationary point of a pair of compasses, midpoint of a circle or sphere," probably reshaping (after the base verb kenteîn) of késtron "toothed implement, name for several nettle-like plants," from kentéō, kenteîn "to sting, goad, prick" (going back to Indo-European *ḱent-, *ḱnt- "sting, prick," whence Old High German hantag "pointed," Latvian sīts "hunting spear") + -tron, suffix of instruments

Verb

derivative of center entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1555, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of center was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near center

Cite this Entry

“Center.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/center. Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

center

1 of 2 noun
cen·​ter ˈsent-ər How to pronounce center (audio)
1
: the point inside a circle or sphere that is an equal distance from all the points on the edge
2
a
: a place in or around which an activity takes place or from which something begins
the center of the scandal
b
: a place for a particular activity or service
a day-care center
c
: a group of neurons that have a common purpose
respiratory center
3
: the middle part (as of a stage)
4
: a player occupying a middle position on a team

center

2 of 2 verb
centered; centering ˈsent-ə-riŋ How to pronounce center (audio)
ˈsen-triŋ
1
: to place or fix at or around a center or central area
2
: to give a central focus
the story is centered on his adventures
3
: to collect at or around a center

Medical Definition

center

noun
cen·​ter
variants or chiefly British centre
: a group of nerve cells having a common function
the brain stem's respiratory center

called also nerve center

More from Merriam-Webster on center

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