uncanny

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

Essential Meaning of uncanny

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

Full 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 Colletto has an uncanny ability to convert short yardage third and fourth downs into first downs, and goal line plays into touchdowns. oregonlive, 7 Oct. 2021 Many have noted the uncanny ability of its users to produce consumer manias, moving products across disparate categories. New York Times, 2 Oct. 2021 Much was made of his uncanny ability to sing soaringly through tears, to deftly manage all that snot in front of an audience of a thousand, many of whom were blubbering right along with him. Alex Morris, Rolling Stone, 29 Sep. 2021 The bond market often has an uncanny ability to predict the future. Kathleen Howley, Forbes, 24 Sep. 2021 All pet dogs are good at understanding their human owners, but a rare few dogs have an uncanny ability to learn and remember object names, a new study finds. NBC News, 20 Sep. 2021 Tony is now a teenager, played to uncanny perfection by Michael Gandolfini. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 1 Oct. 2021 The doubling effect, uncanny in itself, is redoubled within each gallery, where works painted in color appear alongside the same motifs painted in greyscale. Washington Post, 29 Sep. 2021 Even for the places that don’t quite traverse the uncanny valley, there is a uniquely satisfying sadness that comes from visiting a real-world place in a video game. Mike Mcclelland, Wired, 29 Sep. 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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The first known use of uncanny was in 1773

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uncandor

uncanny

uncanonical

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Last Updated

22 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Uncanny.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uncanny. Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

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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

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