Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[sen-ter-ing] /ˈsɛn tər ɪŋ/
a temporary framework for supporting a masonry arch during construction until it is able to stand by itself.
Origin of centering
First recorded in 1760-70; center + -ing1


[sen-ter] /ˈsɛn tər/
Geometry. the middle point, as the point within a circle or sphere equally distant from all points of the circumference or surface, or the point within a regular polygon equally distant from the vertices.
a point, pivot, axis, etc., around which anything rotates or revolves:
The sun is the center of the solar system.
the source of an influence, action, force, etc.:
the center of a problem.
a point, place, person, etc., upon which interest, emotion, etc., focuses:
His family is the center of his life.
a principal point, place, or object:
a shipping center.
a building or part of a building used as a meeting place for a particular group or having facilities for certain activities:
a youth center; The company has a complete recreation center in the basement.
an office or other facility providing a specific service or dealing with a particular emergency:
a flood-relief center; a crisis center.
a person, thing, group, etc., occupying the middle position, especially a body of troops.
the core or middle of anything:
chocolate candies with fruit centers.
a store or establishment devoted to a particular subject or hobby, carrying supplies, materials, tools, and books as well as offering guidance and advice:
a garden center; a nutrition center.
(usually initial capital letter) Government.
  1. the part of a legislative assembly, especially in continental Europe, that sits in the center of the chamber, a position customarily assigned to members of the legislature who hold political views intermediate between those of the Right and Left.
  2. the members of such an assembly who sit in the Center.
  3. the political position of persons who hold moderate views.
  4. politically moderate persons, taken collectively; Centrists; middle-of-the-roaders:
    Unfortunately, his homeland has always lacked a responsible Center.
  1. a lineman who occupies a position in the middle of the line and who puts the ball into play by tossing it between his legs to a back.
  2. the position played by this lineman.
  1. a player who participates in a center jump.
  2. the position of the player in the center of the court, where the center jump takes place at the beginning of play.
Ice Hockey. a player who participates in a face-off at the beginning of play.
Baseball. center field.
Physiology. a cluster of nerve cells governing a specific organic process:
the vasomotor center.
  1. the mean position of a figure or system.
  2. the set of elements of a group that commute with every element of the group.
  1. a tapered rod, mounted in the headstock spindle (live center) or the tailstock spindle (dead center) of a lathe, upon which the work to be turned is placed.
  2. one of two similar points on some other machine, as a planing machine, enabling an object to be turned on its axis.
  3. a tapered indentation, in a piece to be turned on a lathe, into which a center is fitted.
verb (used with object)
to place in or on a center:
She centered the clock on the mantelpiece.
to collect to or around a center; focus:
He centered his novel on the Civil War.
to determine or mark the center of:
A small brass star centered the tabletop.
to adjust, shape, or modify (an object, part, etc.) so that its axis or the like is in a central or normal position:
to center the lens of a telescope; to center the work on a lathe.
to place (an object, part, etc.) so as to be equidistant from all bordering or adjacent areas.
Football. snap (def 21).
to pass (a basketball, hockey puck, etc.) from any place along the periphery toward the middle of the playing area.
verb (used without object)
to be at or come to a center.
to come to a focus; converge; concentrate (followed by at, about, around, in, or on):
The interest of the book centers specifically on the character of the eccentric hero. Political power in the town centers in the position of mayor.
to gather or accumulate in a cluster; collect (followed by at, about, around, in, or on):
Shops and municipal buildings center around the city square.
on center, from the centerline or midpoint of a structural member, an area of a plan, etc., to that of a similar member, area, etc.:
The studs are set 30 inches on center.
Abbreviation: o.c.
Also, especially British, centre.
1325-75; variant of Middle English centre < Latin centrum < Greek kéntron needle, spur, pivoting point in drawing a circle, derivative of kenteîn to sting
Related forms
centerable, adjective
centerless, adjective
supercenter, noun
1. See middle.
1. edge.
Usage note
28. Although sometimes condemned for alleged illogicality, the phrases center about and center around have appeared in edited writing for more than a century to express the sense of gathering or collecting as if around a center: The objections center around the question of fiscal responsibility. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for centering
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This may be followed up by centering the end of a round bar so as to make it true.

  • German gimlet-bits, Fig. 128, have the advantage of centering well.

    Handwork in Wood

    William Noyes
  • Two-thirds of this labor was on the centering or $0.36 per lin.

    Concrete Construction Halbert P. Gillette
  • The centering and the beam and girder forms were supported by 6×6-in.

    Concrete Construction Halbert P. Gillette
  • The lumber of the centering for the vaulting was spruce for the ribs and posts, and 1-in.

    Concrete Construction Halbert P. Gillette
  • Put the other way, it is by centering down that we still the body-mind.

  • And now Drew produced his own hidden weapon, centering it on Hatch.

    Ride Proud, Rebel! Andre Alice Norton
  • He ignored them, centering his attention on the headman himself.

    The Weakling Everett B. Cole
British Dictionary definitions for centering


a US spelling of centring


noun, verb
the US spelling of centre
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for centering



1590s, "to concentrate at a center," from center (n.). Related: Centered; centering. Meaning "to rest as at a center" is from 1620s. Sports sense of "to hit toward the center" is from 1890. To be centered on is from 1713. In combinations, -centered is attested by 1958.



late 14c., "middle point of a circle; point round which something revolves," from Old French centre (14c.), from Latin centrum "center," originally fixed point of the two points of a drafting compass, from Greek kentron "sharp point, goad, sting of a wasp," from kentein "stitch," from PIE root *kent- "to prick" (cf. Breton kentr "a spur," Welsh cethr "nail," Old High German hantag "sharp, pointed").

Figuratively from 1680s. Meaning "the middle of anything" attested from 1590s. Spelling with -re popularized in Britain by Johnson's dictionary (following Bailey's), though -er is older and was used by Shakespeare, Milton, and Pope. Center of gravity is recorded from 1650s. Center of attention is from 1868.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
centering in Medicine

center cen·ter (sěn'tər)

  1. A point or place in the body that is equally distant from its sides or outer boundaries; the middle.

  2. A group of neurons in the central nervous system that control a particular function.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for centering


Related Terms

dead center, front and center

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with centering


In addition to the idiom beginning with center also see: front and center
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for centering

Difficulty index for centering

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for centering

Scrabble Words With Friends