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[ep-uh-sen-ter] /ˈɛp əˌsɛn tər/
Also, epicentrum. Geology. a point, directly above the true center of disturbance, from which the shock waves of an earthquake apparently radiate.
a focal point, as of activity:
Manhattan's Chinatown is the epicenter of the city's Chinese community.
Also, especially British, epicentre.
Origin of epicenter
1885-90; < New Latin epicentrum < Greek epíkentros on the center. See epi-, center
Related forms
epicentral, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for epicentre
Historical Examples
  • In determining the position of the epicentre, Mallet's method was closely followed.

  • The sounds are rarely heard by them more than a few miles from the epicentre.

  • Even at Tokio, which is about 175 miles from the epicentre, the tilting of the ground was very noticeable.

  • The portion of the earth's surface which is vertically above the seismic focus is called the epicentre.

  • The method employed by him for the purpose is no less simple theoretically than that used for locating the epicentre.

  • At the epicentre, the angle of emergence is a right-angle; at a great distance from the epicentre, it is nearly zero.

  • There are, however, several lines of direction which can have no connection with this epicentre.

  • On the opposite side of the epicentre, the waves meet the Sierra de Ronda obliquely.

  • In the neighbourhood of the Rantowles epicentre, the isoseismals in both Figs. 28 and 29 are elongated in form.

  • The point of origin is called the centre or seismic focus, and the place on the surface vertically over it the epicentre.

British Dictionary definitions for epicentre


the point on the earth's surface directly above the focus of an earthquake or underground nuclear explosion Compare focus (sense 6)
(informal) the absolute centre of something: the epicentre of world sprinting
Derived Forms
epicentral, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from New Latin epicentrum, from Greek epikentros over the centre, from epi- + kentron needle; see 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
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Word Origin and History for epicentre

chiefly British English spelling of epicenter; for spelling, see -re.



1887, from Modern Latin epicentrum (1879 in geological use); see epi- + center. Related: Epicentral (1866).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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epicentre in Science
The point on the Earth's surface that is directly above the focus (the point of origin) of an earthquake. The epicenter is usually the location where the greatest damage associated with an earthquake occurs. See Note at earthquake.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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