The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is eccentric. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.
What It Means
Eccentric usually describes people and things that deviate from conventional or accepted usage or behavior, especially in odd or whimsical ways. It is also used technically to mean “deviating from a circular path” and “located elsewhere than at the geometric center.”
// Down the road from us lives an eccentric old man who claims that he can communicate with the birds that roost in his yard.
// The dwarf planet Pluto has a particularly eccentric orbit.
ECCENTRIC in Context
“This children’s adventure movie from Vietnam is like ‘E.T.’—but sloppier and more eccentric.” — Beatrice Loayza, The New York Times, 2 June 2022
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.