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[ep-uh-sen-ter] /ˈɛp əˌsɛn tər/
Also, epicentrum. Geology. a point, directly above the true center of disturbance, from which the shock waves of an earthquake apparently radiate.
a focal point, as of activity:
Manhattan's Chinatown is the epicenter of the city's Chinese community.
Also, especially British, epicentre.
Origin of epicenter
1885-90; < New Latin epicentrum < Greek epíkentros on the center. See epi-, center
Related forms
epicentral, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for epicenter
  • The deeper the epicenter under the seabed, the less potential there is for a tsunami.
  • Ask students if they were able to determine the earthquake's epicenter.
  • One of them may be a tendency to view ourselves as the epicenter of all human events.
  • Naturally, having your town go from rural crossroads to epicurean epicenter has brought some stresses.
  • Set off a virtual quake and find out how to locate its epicenter.
  • The epicenter of the main quake is shown as a large green square.
  • Maybe you've heard of it: this small city was the earthquake's epicenter.
  • After all, the real estate market was the epicenter of the recession, which was driven by a financial crisis.
  • It must have been a real scary one near the epicenter.
  • Merely a lucky orientation of the coastline and the epicenter of the quake.
British Dictionary definitions for epicenter


the point on the earth's surface directly above the focus of an earthquake or underground nuclear explosion Compare focus (sense 6)
(informal) the absolute centre of something: the epicentre of world sprinting
Derived Forms
epicentral, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from New Latin epicentrum, from Greek epikentros over the centre, from epi- + kentron needle; see centre
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 epicenter

1887, from Modern Latin epicentrum (1879 in geological use); see epi- + center. Related: Epicentral (1866).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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epicenter in Science
The point on the Earth's surface that is directly above the focus (the point of origin) of an earthquake. The epicenter is usually the location where the greatest damage associated with an earthquake occurs. See Note at earthquake.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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