Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Departing from a recognized, conventional, or established norm or pattern. See Synonyms at strange.
  • adj. Deviating from a circular form or path, as in an elliptical orbit.
  • adj. Not situated at or in the geometric center.
  • adj. Having the axis located elsewhere than at the geometric center.
  • n. One that deviates markedly from an established norm, especially a person of odd or unconventional behavior.
  • n. Physics A disk or wheel having its axis of revolution displaced from its center so that it is capable of imparting reciprocating motion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. not at or in the centre.
  • adj. not perfectly circular.
  • adj. having a different center.
  • adj. deviating from the norm; behaving unexpectedly or differently.
  • adj. (of a motion) against or in the opposite direction of contraction of a muscle. (E.g. flexion of the lower arm (bending of the elbow joint) by an external force while contracting the triceps and other elbow extensor muscles to control that movement; opening of the jaw while flexing the masseter).
  • n. One who does not behave like others.
  • n. A disk or wheel with its axis off centre, giving a reciprocating motion.
  • n. A kook.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Deviating or departing from the center, or from the line of a circle; ; pertaining to deviation from the center or from true circular motion.
  • adj. Not having the same center; -- said of circles, ellipses, spheres, etc., which, though coinciding, either in whole or in part, as to area or volume, have not the same center; -- opposed to concentric.
  • adj. Pertaining to an eccentric.
  • adj. Not coincident as to motive or end.
  • adj. Deviating from stated methods, usual practice, or established forms or laws; deviating from an appointed sphere or way; departing from the usual course; irregular; anomalous; odd.
  • n. A circle not having the same center as another contained in some measure within the first.
  • n. One who, or that which, deviates from regularity; an anomalous or irregular person or thing.
  • n.
  • n. In the Ptolemaic system, the supposed circular orbit of a planet about the earth, but with the earth not in its center.
  • n. A circle described about the center of an elliptical orbit, with half the major axis for radius.
  • n. A disk or wheel so arranged upon a shaft that the center of the wheel and that of the shaft do not coincide. It is used for operating valves in steam engines, and for other purposes. The motion derived is precisely that of a crank having the same throw.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Not located or situated in the center; away from the center or axis: as, in botany, lateral embryos and the stipes of some hymenomycetous fungi are said to be eccentric.
  • In medicine, not originating or existing in the center or central parts; due to peripheral causes: as, eccentric irritation; eccentric convulsions (that is, convulsions due to peripheral irritation).
  • Not coincident as regards center; specifically, in geometry, not having the same center: applied to circles and spheres which have not the same center, and consequently are not parallel: opposed to concentric, having a common center.
  • Not coincident as regards course or aim; tending to a different end or result; devious.
  • Deviating, or characterized by deviation, from recognized, stated, or usual methods or practice, or from established forms, laws, etc.; irregular; erratic; odd: as, eccentric conduct; an eccentric person.
  • Of or pertaining to an eccentric: as, the eccentric anomaly of a planet; the eccentric rod of a steam-engine.
  • In senses 3 and 6 sometimes written excentric.
  • n. In ancient astronomy, a circle having its center remote from the earth and carrying an epicycle which in its turn was supposed to carry a planet.
  • n. In mod. astron., a circle described about the center of an elliptical orbit, with half the major axis for radius.
  • n. In mech., a device for converting a regular circular motion into an irregular reciprocating rectilinear motion.
  • n. One who or that which is irregular or anomalous in action; a person of eccentric habits.
  • In astronomy, noting orbital motion which is not in a circle around the center of attraction; as applied to curves generally, deviating from circularity, as the ellipse and hyperbola.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person of a specified kind (usually with many eccentricities)
  • n. a person with an unusual or odd personality
  • adj. not having a common center; not concentric
  • adj. conspicuously or grossly unconventional or unusual

Etymologies

Middle English eccentrik, planetary orbit of which the earth is not at the center, from Medieval Latin eccentricus, not having the same center, from Greek ekkentros : ek-, out of; see ecto- + kentron, center (from kentein, to prick; see kent- in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin eccentricus, from Ancient Greek ἔκκεντρος (ekkentros, "not having the earth as the center of an orbit"), from ἐκ (ek, "out") + κέντρον (kentron, "point") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Writing that is alive is what we call eccentric (if in English) or experimental (if in French).

    “Experimental writing”

  • Marry, sir, thus: Mr. Eden was what they call eccentric; among his other deviations from usage he delivered the meaning of sentences in church along with the words.

    It Is Never Too Late to Mend

  • "Kooky and eccentric" is also a good description of Magda Sayeg, the Texas woman credited with starting the yarn bombing movement.

    The graffiti knitting epidemic

  • In Doyle's books, Holmes is described as an eccentric genius, a gifted fighter and a master of disguise who's sometimes prone to bouts of melancholy.

    Jonathan Kim: ReThink Review - Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

  • Meanwhile, a few long-term eccentric guests putter about while the hotel maid Polly Booth attempts to be a calming force amidst a variety of ingenious comedic premises-often involving mistaken identity and miscommunication–that keep threatening to upend everything.

    FAWLTY TOWERS Remastered Complete Collection DVD Review – Collider.com

  • Narrated by the cat Ozzy, The Fantoras are the ultimate in eccentric and unusually gifted families that have so much appeal for young readers and how I would love to have been reading this as a child.

    52 entries from July 2006

  • The eccentric is forced, therefore, to tread a lonely way.

    Best. Title. Ever!

  • Dubosc was well aware that southwestern France is particularly rich in eccentric grapes, and he hoped somehow to bottle that charm.

    Grapes of Gascony

  • This lowering of the weight is called the eccentric phase of the lift, and when you do it slowly, it challenges the muscle even more, causing a longer rebuilding process and a longer post-metabolic boost.

    Fire Up Your Metabolism

  • I suppose you'd choose the word eccentric, wouldn't you, Dennis?

    In the Presence of the Enemy

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  • Being eccentric gets you instant recognition

    November 20, 2007