Definition of eccentric in English:



  • 1(of a person or their behaviour) unconventional and slightly strange:

    ‘he noted her eccentric appearance’
    • ‘The strength of characters was very important - all were slightly eccentric.’
    • ‘Did I mention that my uncle is slightly eccentric?’
    • ‘I've always meant to return there again, as I remember it being beautiful, serene and calming - that is, until the day my friend's slightly eccentric grandfather joined us.’
    • ‘Ultimately, this is just one of the pitfalls of working with eccentric artistic geniuses.’
    • ‘The artist was drawn to Ludwig's life after seeing a biography on the eccentric king's behaviour.’
    • ‘His gregarious and eccentric personality is the perfect mix for a good television programme.’
    • ‘Born into a bookish, slightly eccentric family, she grew up in the shadow of her mother's nervous temperament and the role of caretaker she assumed as a result.’
    • ‘There is a very unique contest being backed by an anonymous group of eccentric billionaires.’
    • ‘Brando was also known for his eccentric behaviour and sometimes outlandish salary demands.’
    • ‘Jane found the twenty-one-year-old Cambridge postgraduate a fascinating and slightly eccentric character and was immediately attracted to him.’
    • ‘He became a recluse, and his rare film appearances were overshadowed by tales of his eccentric behaviour on set.’
    • ‘I am originally from Canada, where this attitude was considered rather eccentric, to say the least.’
    • ‘He may be somewhat eccentric, but he wants to win.’
    • ‘I work with a bunch of peculiar, eccentric guys who have a lot of really strange ideas.’
    • ‘I think I'm regarded as harmless and mildly eccentric; I'm happy with both qualities.’
    • ‘You see, Reynolds the first was somewhat eccentric.’
    • ‘He gives a smile as he recalls that others have called him eccentric.’
    • ‘In life he was regarded as an awkward customer, a cranky, eccentric figure with a talent for rubbing people up the wrong way.’
    • ‘Her eccentric characters are imbued with humanity, and the ending is stunning.’
    • ‘The place is certainly atmospheric, the owner charmingly eccentric.’
    unconventional, uncommon, abnormal, irregular, aberrant, anomalous, odd, queer, strange, peculiar, weird, bizarre, off-centre, outlandish, freakish, extraordinary
    idiosyncratic, quirky, singular, nonconformist, capricious, whimsical
    outré, avant garde
    way out, far out, offbeat, dotty, nutty, screwy, freaky, oddball, wacky, cranky, off the wall, madcap, zany
    kooky, wacko, bizarro, in left field
    View synonyms
  • 2technical Not placed centrally or not having its axis or other part placed centrally:

    ‘a servo driving an eccentric cam’
    • ‘Concentric contractions require the greatest energy expenditure, followed by isometric and eccentric contractions.’
    • ‘Eccentric contractions generally develop greater muscle tension than both isometric and concentric contractions.’
    • ‘Subsequently, the muscle is also more vulnerable to rupture during an eccentric contraction.’
    • ‘The less mature neurons had abundant pink cytoplasm with central to slightly eccentric nuclei and conspicuous nucleoli.’
    • ‘The foam cells were oval to polygonal with a moderate amount of cytoplasm and central to eccentric small nuclei.’
    1. 2.1 (of a circle) not centred on the same point as another.
      • ‘Almost the first thing you see, is Marcel Duchamp's rotorelief of a disc with slightly eccentric circles of hatched red, black and white.’
    2. 2.2 (of an orbit) not circular.
      • ‘From 1979 until 1999 Pluto was not the outermost planet, its eccentric orbit making Neptune the furthest from the Sun.’
      • ‘Together, the two extremes define the boundaries of a highly eccentric orbit.’
      • ‘During the encounter, one is thrown into the eccentric orbit and remains in the Solar System while the other is ejected into interstellar space where it wanders forever.’
      • ‘Some orbits are so eccentric that they never loop back around again.’
      • ‘Past discoveries of planets in other solar systems had wildly eccentric orbits or orbited very close to the star.’


  • 1A person of unconventional and slightly strange views or behaviour:

    ‘he's seen as a local eccentric’
    • ‘She could have been a true British eccentric, although I seem to recall her having a foreign accent.’
    • ‘Mother desperately wanted me to associate with the popular girls - who wouldn't have given me the time of day except in Mother's presence - but tolerated my little motley assortment of eccentrics and outcasts.’
    • ‘The other parties certainly sheltered a fair crop of eccentrics - this is the Ivy League, after all - but it was very rare to find someone as intense, and as intensely different, as your average member of my own society.’
    • ‘The shelf life of a true eccentric is not very long in Hollywood.’
    • ‘Which got me thinking about local characters and eccentrics - like the gentleman who could be seen for years until the mid-1980s walking around Greenwich immaculately turned out, with his Siamese cat on a lead.’
    • ‘The story goes that a local eccentric who built a huge house on the shore complete with caves, underground passages and exotic animals in the grounds, sailed one across the lake during a storm.’
    • ‘Several spoke of him as a harmless and even lovable eccentric.’
    • ‘So I knew his name there and I knew him as a recluse, something to do with Vegas and ultimately an eccentric of some sort with strange stories coming out of many different places.’
    • ‘Those who treat animals in the same way they treat their friends or family are generally seen as eccentrics, or even social misfits.’
    • ‘Hall is fascinated with the ordinary person's philosophy of life and society, and his songs display sympathy for eccentrics and non-conformists.’
    • ‘The boarders, however, are much more than eccentrics or oddballs.’
    • ‘God forbid the eccentrics should start eating the mushrooms because then the strangeness really gets out of hand.’
    • ‘This is a man who clearly knows how to enjoy life and who, with the appearance of a snorkel in his bathroom, has now become known as such a delightful eccentric in his local community that everyone sees him in an adorable new light.’
    • ‘In interviews, he comes across as an engaging, amiable eccentric.’
    • ‘Social life, as usual with Dickens, is just a bewildering assortment of eccentrics, grotesques, amiable idiots and moral monstrosities.’
    • ‘This creates a bond between the two of them, both of whom are viewed as eccentrics by the community.’
    • ‘The Fool can also represent a person in a reading, if so be prepared to meet a real maverick, an eccentric with lust for life.’
    • ‘This is the Cornwall of myth, a clichéd caricature version of the county complete with exaggerated eccentrics, loony local lore and mystical happenings.’
    • ‘The movie would rather be a quirky pseudo-comedy, in which a stranger appears in a small town packed solid with eccentrics and changes their lives forever.’
    • ‘This isn't surprising when even the groups he does encounter, such as the peace activists, also seem to see themselves as dabblers and eccentrics rather than as committed individuals.’
    oddity, odd fellow, unorthodox person, character, individualist, individual, free spirit, misfit
    oddball, queer fish, weirdo, weirdie, freak, nut, nutter, nutcase, case, head case, crank, crackpot, loony, loon
    one-off, odd bod
    wacko, wack, screwball, kook
    wackadoo, wackadoodle
    View synonyms
  • 2A disc or wheel mounted eccentrically on a revolving shaft in order to transform rotation into backward-and-forward motion, e.g. a cam in an internal combustion engine.

    • ‘The ends of the ‘jackshaft’ also carry the two eccentrics needed for the operation of the valve gear, in this case of the Gooch type, often confused with the much better-known Stephenson type.’


Late Middle English (as a noun denoting a circle or orbit not having the earth precisely at its centre): via late Latin from Greek ekkentros, from ek out of + kentron centre.