Noun – Eccentricity
The word “eccentric” comes through Latin, but it has Greek roots that mean “out of the center.”
Originally, an eccentric circle was one that didn’t have the same center as some other particular circle. And an eccentric orbit was one that didn’t have some particular thing in its exact center, like the sun or the earth.
(Still speaking literally, “eccentric” is the opposite of “concentric.” Concentric circles do have the same centers, and concentric orbits do have some particular thing at their exact center.)
From there, “eccentric” grew to mean “not in the center,” “not circular,” “not having much in common.”
And from there, it grew to mean “odd, weird, quirky, irregular.” That’s the meaning we use most often today. Eccentric people, also called eccentrics, are odd, weird, and quirky: they have bizarre little habits that freak us out or fascinate us.
So, an eccentricity is an odd, weird thing that someone does, usually by habit.
And, eccentricity is oddness or weirdness, especially in people’s habits.
Part of speech:
It’s a noun, both the countable kind (“his many eccentricities“) and the uncountable kind (“I just love his eccentricity“).
Other common forms:
eccentric, eccentrics, eccentricities, eccentrically
how to use it:
We often use this word in a fun, lighthearted way. Although you might be criticizing someone by referring to their eccentricity, it’s more likely that you’re expressing how amusing or interesting it is.
Talk about someone’s eccentricity, or the eccentricity of some person, group, product, performance, company, work of art or literature, etc.
Notice that the word “eccentricity” can be both a broad quality (“Her eccentricity fascinates me”) as well as an individual habit (“Her eccentricities fascinate me”).
“She inherited her eccentricity from her father, an inventor whose proudest creations were disposable galoshes and goggles to protect the eyes from TV rays.”
— Ed Pilkington, The Guardian, 13 July 2019
“In previous books, Horowitz has focused on dogs’ extraordinary sense of smell and other aspects of canine biology. Here, she looks at their relationship to people, with a fond eye for human eccentricity.”
— Review in the New York Times of Alexandra Horowitz’s book Our Dogs, Ourselves: The Story of a Singular Bond, 3 September 2019