ec·​cen·​tric | \ ik-ˈsen-trik How to pronounce eccentric (audio) , ek- \

Definition of eccentric

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : deviating from conventional or accepted usage or conduct especially in odd or whimsical ways an eccentric millionaire
b : deviating from an established or usual pattern or style eccentric products
2a : deviating from a circular path especially : elliptical sense 1 an eccentric orbit
b : located elsewhere than at the geometric center also : having the axis or support so located an eccentric wheel



Definition of eccentric (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a person who behaves in odd or unusual ways : an eccentric person
2 : a mechanical device consisting of an eccentric (see eccentric entry 1 sense 2b) disk communicating its motion to a rod so as to produce reciprocating motion

Other Words from eccentric


eccentrically \ ik-​ˈsen-​tri-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce eccentric (audio) , ek-​ \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for eccentric


strange, singular, unique, peculiar, eccentric, erratic, odd, quaint, outlandish mean departing from what is ordinary, usual, or to be expected. strange stresses unfamiliarity and may apply to the foreign, the unnatural, the unaccountable. a journey filled with strange sights singular suggests individuality or puzzling strangeness. a singular feeling of impending disaster unique implies singularity and the fact of being without a known parallel. a career unique in the annals of science peculiar implies a marked distinctiveness. the peculiar status of America's First Lady eccentric suggests a wide divergence from the usual or normal especially in behavior. the eccentric eating habits of preschoolers erratic stresses a capricious and unpredictable wandering or deviating. a friend's suddenly erratic behavior odd applies to a departure from the regular or expected. an odd sense of humor quaint suggests an old-fashioned but pleasant oddness. a quaint fishing village outlandish applies to what is uncouth, bizarre, or barbaric. outlandish fashions of the time

Did you know?

Eccentric was originally a technical term at home in the fields of geometry and astronomy. It comes from a Latin word meaning “not having the earth at its center,” and ultimately has its root in a Greek word with various meanings including “stationary point of a pair of compasses” and “midpoint of a circle or sphere.” But its figurative use is long-established too: as far back as the 17th century the word was used to describe people and things that deviate from what is conventional, usual, or accepted.

Examples of eccentric in a Sentence

Adjective It was Charles Darwin's eccentric mathematician cousin Francis Galton who in 1874 ignited the nature-nurture controversy.  … — Matt Ridley, Time, 2 June 2003 Eccentric drifters that normally roam the farthest reaches of the solar system, these daredevils fly so close to the Sun that they pass through its scorching corona. — Maggie McKee, Astronomy, December 2002 In the spit-and-polish Navy, he and his equally unkempt colleagues were regarded as eccentric. — David M. Kennedy, Atlantic, March 1999 He was a kind but eccentric man. She's become more eccentric over the years. Noun It wasn't until she [Mother Teresa] had set up a leprosarium outside Calcutta on land provided by the government that I began to see her as an idealist rather than an eccentric. — Bharati Mukherjee, Time, 14 June 1999 To his own townspeople Thoreau was a radical and an eccentric, a man without a vocation, supporting himself doing odd jobs, devoting himself to what seemed to them inconsequential rambles, and living like a hermit on the shores of Walden Pond. — Maxine Kumin, In Deep, 1987 But Mozart was also an eccentric, brought up not as a creature of society but as a prodigious child speaking a language of sound. Mozart couldn't "handle people," as one former friend put it. — Edward Rothstein, New York Times Book Review, 31 Oct. 1982 an eccentric who designed his house to look like a Scottish castle See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Adding to investor concerns, the eccentric billionaire also took an unusual 10-day holiday from posting on Twitter, sparking fears his lawyers may have instructed it ahead of a potential regulatory disclosure. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 4 July 2022 Todd and Julie Chrisley share their everyday lives and the eccentric Southern personalities of their household including children Chase, Savannah, Grayson, Chloe and Nanny Faye. al, 23 June 2022 Though the overall effect was spectacular and eccentric, Wiederhoeft threaded touching personal details through each event’s ensemble. Sarah Spellings, Vogue, 24 June 2022 In the new ad campaign for Clash de Cartier, a jewelry collection that strikes a balance between classic and eccentric, Collins does exactly that. Marci Robin, Allure, 1 June 2022 The two eccentric, billionaire, crypto-loving tech titans have traded friendly remarks on Twitter over the years. Clare Duffy, CNN, 28 Apr. 2022 Saints also tend to be intense, eccentric, and maddening to their contemporaries. Andrew Doran, National Review, 3 Mar. 2022 Sporting a massive Santa-like beard, the ever-eccentric Daly stood out in the 20-team event pairing big-name professional golfers with a child or parent. Edgar Thompson,, 20 Dec. 2021 Musk takes control of the digital town square Musk, an eccentric billionaire with a history of courting controversy on and off Twitter, has personally pitched the acquisition in soaring rhetoric. Brian Fung, CNN, 26 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Grainger deposited his luggage in the trunk of the car and, as was his wont, this most eccentric of all major composers jogged alongside the taxi to the train station. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 2 June 2022 The game of baseball has always had a special place for the eccentric. Leigh Montville, WSJ, 26 May 2022 And this Spring/Summer 2022 is all about high/low, bold, the look for less and an abundance of attitude — a playground for the good, the great and the eccentric. Tyrus Townsend, Essence, 28 Apr. 2022 Most people and the press interpreted a grown man conversing with an inanimate object in front of 48,000 fans as colorful or eccentric. Demetria Gallegos, WSJ, 14 May 2022 First, the bench stops your arms from descending too far during the eccentric (lowering) part of the movement. Kirk Charles, Men's Health, 24 May 2022 Perhaps not surprisingly, considering the impracticality of such a project at the time, three of the earliest calls came from a maverick, an eccentric and a madman. Gary Kamiya, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 Mar. 2022 The Duke Jim Broadbent plays a British eccentric accused of pilfering a Goya painting, while Helen Mirren is his long-suffering wife. Wsj Arts, WSJ, 29 Apr. 2022 In 1890, a mustachioed eccentric named Eugene Schieffelin released a few dozen European starlings into New York City. New York Times, 11 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of eccentric


circa 1630, in the meaning defined at sense 1b


1827, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for eccentric


borrowed from Medieval Latin ecentricus, excentricus "not concentric with another circle, (of a planetary orbit in Ptolemaic astronomy) not having the earth exactly at its center," from Late Latin eccentros, eccentrus "not having the earth at its center" (borrowed from Greek ékkentros, from ek- ec- + -kentros, adjective derivative of kéntron "sting, goad, point, stationary point of a pair of compasses, midpoint of a circle or sphere") + Latin -icus -ic entry 1 — more at center entry 1


Middle English excentryke "planetary orbit of which the earth is not the center," borrowed from Medieval Latin excentricus, noun derivative of ecentricus, excentricus "(of a planetary orbit in Ptolemaic astronomy) not having the earth exactly at its center" — more at eccentric entry 1

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The first known use of eccentric was circa 1630

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Last Updated

14 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Eccentric.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for eccentric


ec·​cen·​tric | \ ik-ˈsen-trik How to pronounce eccentric (audio) , ek- \

Kids Definition of eccentric

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : acting or thinking strangely an eccentric man
2 : not of the usual or normal kind eccentric ideas



Kids Definition of eccentric (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who behaves strangely


ec·​cen·​tric | \ ik-ˈsen-trik, ek- How to pronounce eccentric (audio) \

Medical Definition of eccentric

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: deviating from an established pattern or from accepted usage or conduct

Other Words from eccentric

eccentrically \ -​tri-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce eccentric (audio) \ adverb



Medical Definition of eccentric (Entry 2 of 2)

: an eccentric individual

More from Merriam-Webster on eccentric

Nglish: Translation of eccentric for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of eccentric for Arabic Speakers


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