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, ep·i·cen·tre.

Origin of epicenter

1885–90; < New Latin epicentrum < Greek epíkentros on the center. See epi-, center
Related formsep·i·cen·tral, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for epicenter

headquarters, hotbed, core, focus, heart, hub, HQ, ganglion, switchboard

Examples from the Web for epicenter

Contemporary Examples of epicenter

Historical Examples of epicenter

  • The ground motion near the epicenter was so violent that the tops of some trees were snapped off.


    Kaye M. Shedlock

  • The location of an earthquake is commonly described by the geographic position of its epicenter and by its focal depth.


    Kaye M. Shedlock

  • The Santa Cruz mountains suffered little damage from the seismic waves, even though they were close to the epicenter.


    Kaye M. Shedlock

Word Origin and History for epicenter

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

epicenter 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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.