adjective pe·cu·liar \pi-ˈkyül-yər\

: not usual or normal

: not well : somewhat ill

Full Definition of PECULIAR

:  characteristic of only one person, group, or thing :  distinctive
:  different from the usual or normal:
a :  special, particular
b :  odd, curious
c :  eccentric, queer
pe·cu·liar·ly adverb

Examples of PECULIAR

  1. As military coups go, this was a most peculiar one, bloodless, and in Bangkok at least quite popular. —Ian Buruma, New York Review, 1 Mar. 2007

Origin of PECULIAR

Middle English peculier, from Latin peculiaris of private property, special, from peculium private property, from pecu cattle; akin to Latin pecus cattle — more at fee
First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of PECULIAR

characteristic, individual, peculiar, distinctive mean indicating a special quality or identity. characteristic applies to something that distinguishes or identifies a person or thing or class <responded with her characteristic wit>. individual stresses qualities that distinguish one from all other members of the same kind or class <a highly individual writing style>. peculiar applies to qualities possessed only by a particular individual or class or kind and stresses rarity or uniqueness <an eccentricity that is peculiar to the British>. distinctive indicates qualities distinguishing and uncommon and often superior or praiseworthy <a distinctive aura of grace and elegance>.

strange, singular, unique, peculiar, eccentric, erratic, odd, quaint, outlandish mean departing from what is ordinary, usual, or to be expected. strange stresses unfamiliarity and may apply to the foreign, the unnatural, the unaccountable <a journey filled with strange sights>. singular suggests individuality or puzzling strangeness <a singular feeling of impending disaster>. unique implies singularity and the fact of being without a known parallel <a career unique in the annals of science>. peculiar implies a marked distinctiveness <the peculiar status of America's first lady>. eccentric suggests a wide divergence from the usual or normal especially in behavior <the eccentric eating habits of preschoolers>. erratic stresses a capricious and unpredictable wandering or deviating <a friend's suddenly erratic behavior>. odd applies to a departure from the regular or expected <an odd sense of humor>. quaint suggests an old-fashioned but pleasant oddness <a quaint fishing village>. outlandish applies to what is uncouth, bizarre, or barbaric <outlandish fashions of the time>.


noun pe·cu·liar \pi-ˈkyül-yər\

Definition of PECULIAR

:  something exempt from ordinary jurisdiction; especially :  a church or parish exempt from the jurisdiction of the ordinary in whose territory it lies

Origin of PECULIAR

(see 1peculiar)
First Known Use: 1562
PECULIAR Defined for Kids


adjective pe·cu·liar \pi-ˈkyül-yər\

Definition of PECULIAR for Kids

:  of or limited to only one person, thing, or place <It's a custom peculiar to England.>
:  different from the usual :  odd
pe·cu·liar·ly adverb

Word History of PECULIAR

The word peculiar first meant a person's own. You may have some quality that is just your own. No one else has it. That surely makes it unusual. This is how peculiar came to mean unusual or odd.


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