Definition of peculiar in English:



  • 1Different to what is normal or expected; strange:

    ‘he gave her some very peculiar looks’
    ‘Stella thought the play peculiar’
    • ‘Jen stooped down to further inspect this strange and most peculiar piece of metal.’
    • ‘But if you can keep a certain degree of objectivity then you can see how peculiar and strange it is.’
    • ‘After about ten minutes of the three of them talking, Greg asked a rather peculiar question.’
    • ‘Rather than being offended, Luke was absolutely thrilled by her strange and peculiar reaction.’
    • ‘It was then that Erika suddenly felt something peculiar and strange about her surroundings.’
    • ‘She was peculiar, different to the girls he had taken vague interest in before.’
    • ‘Some people were asked strange questions in a telephone survey: peculiar interpretations will probably result.’
    • ‘He seemed weird but the strangest thing about this peculiar man was his clothing.’
    • ‘He was different; he was peculiar in the most conceivably beautiful way.’
    • ‘Treating it like a big thing suggests that there's something different or peculiar about it.’
    • ‘I gave him a curious look, surprised by his peculiar question.’
    • ‘Many fellows had asked him for peculiar things, but this was stranger than most.’
    • ‘Plants of different kinds grow in peculiar spots, including wheelbarrows, also adding to the special botanic atmosphere.’
    • ‘She noticed something different, something quite peculiar as they were dancing.’
    • ‘The young woman thought this style of dress very peculiar and abnormal.’
    • ‘His stress level rose and his peculiar behaviour became increasingly bizarre.’
    • ‘There was something peculiar about the stranger before them, but he couldn't figure it out.’
    • ‘Sometimes the images appear to be strangely illuminated or may be seen from a peculiar angle.’
    • ‘At the early age of 17, 983 years past, she had meet a peculiar woman, a stranger who turned to be of great help.’
    • ‘He would regale us of tales about the rich and famous, their peculiar ways and their strange vices.’
    bizarre, eccentric, strange, odd, weird, queer, funny, unusual, abnormal, idiosyncratic, unconventional, outlandish, offbeat, freakish, quirky, quaint, droll, zany, off-centre
    strange, unusual, odd, funny, curious, bizarre, weird, uncanny, queer, unexpected, unfamiliar, abnormal, atypical, anomalous, untypical, different, out of the ordinary, out of the way
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    1. 1.1informal [predicative] Slightly and indefinably unwell:
      ‘I felt a little peculiar for a while’
      • ‘Feeling a little peculiar from the encounter, Carly shuddered and led the way back inside, Chelsea and Ivy bringing up the rear.’
      • ‘I pulled myself up a bit and found that my head also felt peculiar.’
      unwell, ill, poorly, bad, out of sorts, indisposed, not oneself, sick, queasy, nauseous, nauseated, peaky, liverish, green about the gills, run down, washed out
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  • 2Particular; special:

    ‘any attempt to explicate the theme is bound to run into peculiar difficulties’
    • ‘The test of reasonableness can be applied, however, only in the peculiar circumstances of the particular case.’
    • ‘This indicates one aspect of the peculiar difficulty of police research.’
    • ‘All of them are unique and have their peculiar features.’
    • ‘They are dependent upon the peculiar circumstances of the particular case, what should or should not have been the outcome of a discretionary judgment.’
    • ‘Your Honour has seen the particular peculiar financial circumstances that they are in and there is no suggestion that that financial position is not as set out.’
    distinctive, characteristic, distinct, different, individual, individualistic, distinguishing, typical, special, specific, representative, unique, idiosyncratic, personal, private, essential, natural
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    1. 2.1peculiar to Belonging exclusively to:
      ‘some languages are peculiar to one region’
      • ‘That is not peculiar to New Zealand; it is true in almost every developed country in the world that I am aware of.’
      • ‘But this sense of being on outsider is not peculiar to the Irish, but rather to the writer.’
      • ‘Now, I'm not sure if all people do this, or whether it's something peculiar to my family.’
      • ‘The issue of street vending is not only peculiar to Zambia alone but to many other countries.’
      • ‘No doubt there are problems arising from the role of the drug companies in medical research, but these are not peculiar to vaccines.’
      • ‘This is true, but these values are not peculiar to Britain, and it is hard to see why we have to become patriots in order to invoke them.’
      • ‘Everywhere you go you have an increase in crime so it is not peculiar to St Lucia.’
      • ‘There are also some requirements that are peculiar to a particular airline.’
      • ‘The culture of binge drinking is peculiar to Britain and the law is partly to blame.’
      • ‘But you look at the schedules and you can see it is a real problem for everyone - this is not peculiar to Scotland.’
      characteristic of, typical of, representative of, belonging to, indicative of, symptomatic of, suggestive of, exclusive to, like, in character with
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  • A parish or church exempt from the jurisdiction of the diocese in which it lies, and subject to the direct jurisdiction of the monarch or an archbishop:

    ‘deans and canons of royal peculiars, notably Westminster Abbey and Windsor’
    • ‘The abbey is a so-called royal peculiar, one of a handful of churches under the Queen's direct control.’
    • ‘Yet others, founded by kings or bishops as their own, were later known as ‘peculiars’, withdrawn from ordinary diocesan jurisdiction.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘particular’): from Latin peculiaris of private property, from peculium property, from pecu cattle (cattle being private property). The sense ‘strange’ dates from the early 17th century.