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[ih-rat-ik] /ɪˈræt ɪk/
deviating from the usual or proper course in conduct or opinion; eccentric; queer:
erratic behavior.
having no certain or definite course; wandering; not fixed:
erratic winds.
Geology. noting or pertaining to a boulder or the like carried by glacial ice and deposited some distance from its place of origin.
(of a lichen) having no attachment to the surface on which it grows.
an erratic or eccentric person.
Geology. an erratic boulder or the like.
Origin of erratic
1325-75; Middle English < Latin errāticus, equivalent to errāt(us) (past participle of errāre to err) + -icus -ic
Related forms
erratically, adverb
erraticism, noun
nonerratic, adjective, noun
nonerratically, adverb
unerratic, adjective
Can be confused
erotic, erratic, exotic.
1. unpredictable, unstable, capricious.
1. consistent, regular, stable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for erratic
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There is quite sufficient of the erratic and unusual in the character of Glahn, the hero, but the tone is more subdued.

    Mothwise Knut Hamsun
  • He worked in his erratic way all winter, and certainly did have some success.

    Johnny Bear E. T. Seton
  • Had not my peculiar habits of isolation, irregular and intense study, erratic living, all conspired to unseat reason?

  • With them we think of the artificial as the archetype; the earth-born as the erratic exception.

    Alarms and Discursions G. K. Chesterton
  • The anthropologist was too erratic a man 122 to inspire confidence, and the Phantom needed someone whom he could trust absolutely.

British Dictionary definitions for erratic


irregular in performance, behaviour, or attitude; inconsistent and unpredictable
having no fixed or regular course; wandering
a piece of rock that differs in composition, shape, etc, from the rock surrounding it, having been transported from its place of origin, esp by glacial action
an erratic person or thing
Derived Forms
erratically, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Latin errāticus, from errāre to wander, err
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 erratic

late 14c., "wandering, moving," from Old French erratique (13c.) and directly from Latin erraticus "wandering, straying, roving," from erratum "an error, mistake, fault," past participle of errare "to wander, err" (see err). Sense of "irregular, eccentric" is attested by 1841. The noun is from 1620s, of persons; 1849, of boulders. Related: Erratically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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