Definition of peculiar in English:

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Pronunciation: /pɪˈkjuːlɪə/


1Different to what is normal or expected; strange: he gave her some very peculiar looks Stella thought the play peculiar
More example sentences
  • He seemed weird but the strangest thing about this peculiar man was his clothing.
  • Plants of different kinds grow in peculiar spots, including wheelbarrows, also adding to the special botanic atmosphere.
  • But if you can keep a certain degree of objectivity then you can see how peculiar and strange it is.
exceptional, rare, extraordinary, remarkable;
puzzling, mystifying, mysterious, perplexing, baffling, unaccountable, incongruous, uncommon, irregular, singular, deviant, aberrant, freak, freakish;
suspicious, dubious, questionable;
Scottish  unco;
French outré
informal fishy, creepy, spooky
British informal rum
North American informal bizarro
North American informal off the wall, wacko
Australian/New Zealand informal, dated dilly
1.1 [predicative] informal Slightly and indefinably unwell: I felt a little peculiar for a while
More example sentences
  • Feeling a little peculiar from the encounter, Carly shuddered and led the way back inside, Chelsea and Ivy bringing up the rear.
  • I pulled myself up a bit and found that my head also felt peculiar.
unwell, ill, poorly, bad, out of sorts, indisposed, not oneself, sick, queasy, nauseous, nauseated, peaky, liverish, green about the gills, run down, washed out;
British  off, off colour
informal under the weather, below par, not up to par, funny, rough, lousy, rotten, awful, terrible, dreadful, crummy, seedy
British informal grotty, ropy
Scottish informal wabbit, peely-wally
Australian/New Zealand informal crook
vulgar slang crappy
rare peaked, peakish
2Particular; special: any attempt to explicate the theme is bound to run into peculiar difficulties
More example sentences
  • This indicates one aspect of the peculiar difficulty of police research.
  • All of them are unique and have their peculiar features.
  • They are dependent upon the peculiar circumstances of the particular case, what should or should not have been the outcome of a discretionary judgment.
distinctive, characteristic, distinct, different, individual, individualistic, distinguishing, typical, special, specific, representative, unique, idiosyncratic, personal, private, essential, natural;
identifiable, unmistakable, conspicuous, notable, remarkable
rare singular
2.1 (peculiar to) Belonging exclusively to: some languages are peculiar to one region
More example sentences
  • That is not peculiar to New Zealand; it is true in almost every developed country in the world that I am aware of.
  • This is true, but these values are not peculiar to Britain, and it is hard to see why we have to become patriots in order to invoke them.
  • No doubt there are problems arising from the role of the drug companies in medical research, but these are not peculiar to vaccines.
characteristic of, typical of, representative of, belonging to, indicative of, symptomatic of, suggestive of, exclusive to, like, in character with


chiefly British
A parish or church exempt from the jurisdiction of the diocese in which it lies, and subject to the direct jurisdiction of the monarch or an archbishop: deans and canons of royal peculiars, notably Westminster Abbey and Windsor
More example sentences
  • Yet others, founded by kings or bishops as their own, were later known as ‘peculiars’, withdrawn from ordinary diocesan jurisdiction.
  • The abbey is a so-called royal peculiar, one of a handful of churches under the Queen's direct control.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'particular'): from Latin peculiaris 'of private property', from peculium 'property', from pecu 'cattle' (cattle being private property). The sense 'strange' dates from the early 17th century.

  • The earliest senses of peculiar in English include ‘unlike others’ and ‘specific to a person’, with the development ‘strange, odd’ not emerging until the early 17th century. Latin peculium, from which peculiar derives, meant ‘private property’. It came from pecu ‘cattle, farm animals’ also the source of pecuniary (early 16th century), for ‘wealth in farm animals’ which developed into the sense ‘money’.

Words that rhyme with peculiar

Apulia, dulia, Julia

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pe¦cu|liar

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