• Center


    • UK IPA: /ˈsÉ›n.tÉ™/
    • US IPA: /ˈsÉ›n.tÉš/, /ˈsÉ›n.tÉš/
    • Rhymes: -É›ntÉ™(r)
    • Homophones: sinner pin-pen merger

    Alternative forms

    • centre UK, Ireland and all commonwealth countries including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa etc


    From Middle French centre, from Latin centrum, from Ancient Greek κέντρον (kentron), from κεντεῖν (kentein, "to prick, goad").

    Full definition of center



    (plural centers)
    1. The point in the interior of a circle or sphere that is equidistant from all points on the circumference. from 14th c.
      • 1908, Thomas L. Heath, translating Euclid, Elements, III.9:If a point be taken within a circle, and more than two equal straight lines fall from the point on the circle, the point taken is the centre of the circle.
      • 2005, David Adam, The Guardian, 4 Jun 2005:Japanese scientists are to explore the centre of the Earth. Using a giant drill ship launched next month, the researchers aim to be the first to punch a hole through the rocky crust that covers our planet and to reach the mantle below.
    2. The middle portion of something; the part well away from the edges.
    3. (geometry) The point on a line that is midway between the ends.
    4. (geometry) The point in the interior of any figure of any number of dimensions that has as its coordinates the arithmetic mean of the coordinates of all points on the perimeter of the figure (or of all points in the interior for a center of volume).
    5. A place where some function or activity occurs.shopping centerconvention center
    6. A topic that is particularly important in a given context.the center of the controversythe center of attention
    7. (basketball) The player, generally the tallest, who plays closest to the basket.
    8. (ice hockey) The forward that generally plays between the left wing and right wing and usually takes the faceoffs.
    9. (American football) The person who holds the ball at the beginning of each play.
    10. (Canadian football) The person who holds the ball at the beginning of each play.
    11. (netball) A player who can go all over the court, except the shooting circles.
    12. (soccer) A pass played into the centre of the pitch.
      • 2010, December 28, Owen Phillips, Sunderland 0 - 2 Blackpool, Bent twice sent efforts wide of the far post after cutting in from the left, Wellbeck missed his kick from an inviting centre and failed to get on the end of a looping pass when six yards out.
    13. (rugby) One of the backs operating in a central area of the pitch, either the inside centre or outside centre.
      • 2011, February 4, Gareth Roberts, Wales 19-26 England, Gatland's side got back to within striking distance when fly-half Jones's clever pass sent centre Jonathan Davies arcing round Shontayne Hape.
    14. (architecture) A temporary structure upon which the materials of a vault or arch are supported in position until the work becomes self-supporting.
    15. (engineering) One of the two conical steel pins in a lathe, etc., upon which the work is held, and about which it revolves.
    16. (engineering) A conical recess or indentation in the end of a shaft or other work, to receive the point of a center, on which the work can turn, as in a lathe.





    1. Of, at, or related to a center.



    1. (transitive) To cause (an object) to occupy the center of an area.
      • PriorThy joys are centred all in me alone.
    2. (transitive) To cause (some attribute, such as a mood or voltage) to be adjusted to a value which is midway between the extremes.
    3. (intransitive) To concentrate on (something), to pay close attention to (something).
    4. (engineering) To form a recess or indentation for the reception of a center.

    Related terms

    Usage notes

    The spelling centre is standard in UK English. In Canada it is typical in proper names, e.g. Toronto Centre for the Arts, but "center" is also commonly used otherwise, e.g. shopping center, center of town. Both spellings can be encountered even in the same text, e.g. in NHL hockey where there are many Canadian and US teams, reference might be made to the "center" forward position and a "centre" where a game is played.

    The indirect object of the intransitive verb is given the prepositions on, in, at, or around. At is primary used only in mathematical contexts.

    Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary observes that center around is objected to by some people on the grounds that it is illogical, but states that it is an idiom, and thus that such objections are irrelevant. It offers revolve around as an alternative to center around for those who would avoid the idiom.

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