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[ih-rat-ik] /ɪˈræt ɪk/
deviating from the usual or proper course in conduct or opinion; eccentric; queer:
erratic behavior.
having no certain or definite course; wandering; not fixed:
erratic winds.
Geology. noting or pertaining to a boulder or the like carried by glacial ice and deposited some distance from its place of origin.
(of a lichen) having no attachment to the surface on which it grows.
an erratic or eccentric person.
Geology. an erratic boulder or the like.
Origin of erratic
1325-75; Middle English < Latin errāticus, equivalent to errāt(us) (past participle of errāre to err) + -icus -ic
Related forms
erratically, adverb
erraticism, noun
nonerratic, adjective, noun
nonerratically, adverb
unerratic, adjective
Can be confused
erotic, erratic, exotic.
1. unpredictable, unstable, capricious.
1. consistent, regular, stable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for erratically
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They found a place where saltpeter was very thinly and erratically distributed.

    Space Prison Tom Godwin
  • If He is merciful at all He cannot be merciful only spasmodically, erratically, or temporarily.

  • Halvard was propelling them vigorously but erratically forward.

    Wild Oranges Joseph Hergesheimer
  • Down plunged the vanquished monoplane, spirally, erratically.

    Billy Barcroft, R.N.A.S. Percy F. Westerman
  • The flat pointed head seems to be in contact with the ground or very near to it as the animal moves about rapidly and erratically.

  • erratically she responded to their promptings, trying not to be ruffled, but she could not reveal her heart.

    The Key to the Bront Works John Malham-Dembleby
  • Thick scrub covered it, but erratically, so that here and there were little openings or thin places.

    The Land of Footprints Stewart Edward White
  • Strung out in a straggling line of erratically progressing units, the men of Earth headed for the caves.

    The Giants From Outer Space Geoff St. Reynard
  • Meanwhile the gravity potentiometer (gravy board) was changing its reading constantly and erratically.

    Unthinkable Roger Phillips Graham
British Dictionary definitions for erratically


irregular in performance, behaviour, or attitude; inconsistent and unpredictable
having no fixed or regular course; wandering
a piece of rock that differs in composition, shape, etc, from the rock surrounding it, having been transported from its place of origin, esp by glacial action
an erratic person or thing
Derived Forms
erratically, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Latin errāticus, from errāre to wander, err
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 erratically



late 14c., "wandering, moving," from Old French erratique (13c.) and directly from Latin erraticus "wandering, straying, roving," from erratum "an error, mistake, fault," past participle of errare "to wander, err" (see err). Sense of "irregular, eccentric" is attested by 1841. The noun is from 1620s, of persons; 1849, of boulders. Related: Erratically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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