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[ek-suh n-tris-i-tee, ek-sen-] /ˌɛk sənˈtrɪs ɪ ti, ˌɛk sɛn-/
noun, plural eccentricities.
an oddity or peculiarity, as of conduct:
an interesting man, known for his eccentricities.
the quality of being eccentric.
the amount by which something is eccentric.
Machinery. the distance between the centers of two cylindrical objects one of which surrounds the other, as between an eccentric and the shaft on which it is mounted.
Mathematics. a constant expressed as the ratio of the distance from a point on a conic to a focus and the distance from the point to the directrix.
1545-55; < Medieval Latin eccentricitās, equivalent to eccentric- (see eccentric) + -itās -ity
2. queerness, strangeness, oddness, freakishness, aberration. Eccentricity, peculiarity, quirk, idiosyncrasy all refer to some noticeable deviation in behavior, style, or manner from what is normal or expected. Eccentricity usually suggests a mildly amusing but harmless characteristic or style: a whimsical eccentricity in choice of clothing. Peculiarity is the most general of these words, referring to almost any perceptible oddity or departure from any norm: the peculiarity of his eyelashes, of the weather. Quirk often refers to a minor, unimportant kind of oddity: Her one quirk was a habit of speaking to strangers in elevators. Sometimes quirk has overtones of strangeness: sexual quirks. Idiosyncrasy refers to a variation in behavior or manner exclusive to or characteristic of a single individual: idiosyncrasies of style that irritated editors but often delighted readers. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for eccentricity
  • Is this simply an extreme form of academic eccentricity.
  • Hare developed an eye for human psychology and a taste for human eccentricity.
  • At the same time, it probably cemented his reputation for eccentricity.
  • eccentricity is not only tolerated, it is a way of life.
  • In the annals of inventing, ingenuity and eccentricity often seem to go hand in hand.
  • But ours is a tradition of eccentricity and earthly pleasures and a healthy disrespect for the powers that be.
  • eccentricity was the order of the day, and the newcomer fitted in perfectly.
  • It's a comedy that confuses humor with confusion, wit with noise and eccentricity with absurdity.
  • eccentricity is not only tolerated here, it seems, but expected.
  • On the one hand, they have been archetypes of eccentricity.
British Dictionary definitions for eccentricity


noun (pl) -ties
unconventional or irregular behaviour
deviation from a circular path or orbit
a measure of the noncircularity of an elliptical orbit, the distance between the foci divided by the length of the major axis
(geometry) a number that expresses the shape of a conic section: the ratio of the distance of a point on the curve from a fixed point (the focus) to the distance of the point from a fixed line (the directrix)
the degree of displacement of the geometric centre of a rotating part from the true centre, esp of the axis of rotation of a wheel or shaft
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for eccentricity

1540s, of planetary orbits; 1650s, of persons (an instance of eccentricity); 1794, of persons (a quality of eccentricity); from eccentric (adj.) + -ity. Related: Eccentricities.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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eccentricity in Science
  1. A measure of the deviation of an elliptical path, especially an orbit, from a perfect circle. It is equal to the ratio of the distance between the foci of the ellipse to the length of the major axis of the ellipse (the distance between the two points farthest apart on the ellipse). Eccentricity ranges from zero (for a perfect circle) to values approaching 1 (highly elongated ellipses).

  2. The ratio of the distance of any point on a conic section from a focus to its distance from the corresponding directrix. This ratio is constant for any particular conic section.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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