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See more synonyms for eclectic on Thesaurus.com
  1. selecting or choosing from various sources.
  2. made up of what is selected from different sources.
  3. not following any one system, as of philosophy, medicine, etc., but selecting and using what are considered the best elements of all systems.
  4. noting or pertaining to works of architecture, decoration, landscaping, etc., produced by a certain person or during a certain period, that derive from a wide range of historic styles, the style in each instance often being chosen for its fancied appropriateness to local tradition, local geography, the purpose to be served, or the cultural background of the client.
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  1. Also ec·lec·ti·cist [ih-klek-tuh-sist] /ɪˈklɛk tə sɪst/. a person who follows an eclectic method, as in philosophy or architecture.
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Origin of eclectic

1675–85; < Greek eklektikós selective, equivalent to eklekt(ós) chosen, select (eklég(ein) to pick out + -tos past participle suffix; see ec-) + -ikos -ic
Related formsec·lec·ti·cal·ly, adverbnon·ec·lec·tic, adjective, nounnon·ec·lec·ti·cal·ly, adverbun·ec·lec·tic, adjectiveun·ec·lec·ti·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for eclectic

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Philosophy had become extravagant, eclectic, abstract, devoid of any real content.

  • There are courses that are foundational and that must therefore be governed by an eclectic aim.

    College Teaching

    Paul Klapper

  • We've had all the doctors, eclectic an' herb besides, an' they don't give her no hope.

  • The crowd of onlookers was as odd, and eclectic, and keen, as can possibly be imagined.


    Pierre Souvestre

  • With respect to "highness" and "lowness," my ideas are only eclectic and not very clear.

British Dictionary definitions for eclectic


  1. (in art, philosophy, etc) selecting what seems best from various styles, doctrines, ideas, methods, etc
  2. composed of elements drawn from a variety of sources, styles, etc
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  1. a person who favours an eclectic approach, esp in art or philosophy
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Derived Formseclectically, adverb

Word Origin

C17: from Greek eklektikos, from eklegein to select, from legein to gather
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

Word Origin and History for eclectic


1680s, originally in reference to a group of ancient philosophers who selected doctrines from every system; from French eclectique (1650s), from Greek eklektikos "selective," literally "picking out," from eklektos "selected," from eklegein "pick out, select," from ek "out" (see ex-) + legein "gather, choose" (see lecture (n.)). Broader sense of "borrowed from diverse sources" is first recorded 1847. As a noun from 1817.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper