Definitions

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

  • adj. Peculiarly unsettling, as if of supernatural origin or nature; eerie. See Synonyms at weird.
  • adj. So keen and perceptive as to seem preternatural.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. strange, and mysteriously unsettling (as if supernatural); weird
  • adj. Careless.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Not canny; unsafe; strange; weird; ghostly.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Not canny, in any sense.
  • Eery; weird; mysterious; apparently not of this world; hence, noting one supposed to possess preternatural powers.
  • Severe, as a fall or blow.

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

  • adj. suggesting the operation of supernatural influences
  • adj. surpassing the ordinary or normal

Etymologies

un-1 + canny, fortunate, safe (obsolete).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From un- +‎ canny; thus “beyond one′s ken,” or outside one′s familiar knowledge or perceptions. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The Polar Express, even before the term uncanny valley was coined in 1970, Disney was giving us the willies with lifelike machines.

    Wired Top Stories

  • And Roboticist Masahiro Mori used the term uncanny valley to describe the disconcerting reaction people had to robots as they became more human-like in their appearance.

    Kotaku

  • In fact, in so far as the uncanny is also a signifier to which a real world referent can be attached we might be even more dubious.

    Archive 2008-01-01

  • And in so far as the uncanny is a signifier to which a real world referent can be attached -- the bestial amorality at the heart of human nature, the id unbound -- we might be equally dubious of the acts of validation carried out in the revelations of Horror.

    Archive 2008-01-01

  • FREED: It's not clear why the mismatch happened, but in trying to explain it, the coroner pointed to what he called the uncanny resemblance between the women, including body type, hair color and facial features.

    CNN Transcript Jun 1, 2006

  • This interest in common things was gratifying to Aunt Charlotte, who distrusted and discouraged his dwelling on what she called the uncanny side of life; but she was anxious, at the same time, that he should not overtax his strength, and gave secret orders to Lubin to see that the young master did not allow his ardour to outrun the dictates of discretion.

    Austin and His Friends

  • The thing was not quite what we call uncanny; the people were so honest, both of them, that the morbid character of like situations was wanting.

    Questionable Shapes

  • In our lit-crit terminology, this unsettling aspect of the "uncanny" is the implicity of a boulomaic modality of "should not have happened".

    Archive 2008-01-01

  • I did not know the story of "St. Christopher the Dog-Head" or Ratramnus 'reply to Rimbert when I wrote the original "Eifelheim," lo these many years ago; but there is a certain uncanny similarity in the stories.

    August 4th, 2009

  • And an excerpt from the Faren Miller review says: The situation seems less grim than exciting to a pair of girls who barely manage to hide their lesbianism, their anti-government sentiments, and certain uncanny capabilities (for whatever the leaders wish to think, whatever the laws decree, magic does exist here).

    they've got cars big as bars, they've got rivers of gold

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Comments

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  • “A kind of cross between Helen Traubel and Martha Raye an uncanny amalgam of Joan Sutherland and Phyllis Diller.�?
    -James McCourt

    July 29, 2009

  • especially pleasing in the context of this list since uncanny doesn't seem to have much to do with canny

    February 14, 2008