January 24, 2017
eccentric (adjective)
\ik-SEN-trik\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : odd in behavior2 : being off center
How do you use it?
"The next day Mirabel Cotton was kept in at recess and "gently but firmly" given to understand that when you were so unfortunate as to possess an uncle who persisted in walking about houses after he had been decently interred it was not in good taste to talk about that eccentric gentleman to your deskmate of tender years." (Lucy Maud Montgomery, _Anne of Avonlea_)
Are you a word wiz?

Judging from what you know about "eccentric," from which of the roots below do you think it originates?

It was the Greek word "kentein," meaning "to prick," that gave rise to "eccentric." From "kentein" developed the noun "kentron," meaning "center," as in the center of a circle. The Greeks combined the prefix "ex-," meaning "out of," with "kentron" to form "ekkentros," the grandparent of "eccentric." "Eccentric" does have a meaning of "deviating from a circular path," as in "an eccentric orbit," but it is the "odd" meaning that is most familiar. Perhaps something or someone odd or unusual reminded people of the perfection of a circle becoming skewed. Someone who was eccentric deviated from the normal path, and thus was figuratively "out of center." Correct answer: A
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