• synonyms


  1. Also epicentrum. Geology. a point, directly above the true center of disturbance, from which the shock waves of an earthquake apparently radiate.
  2. a focal point, as of activity: Manhattan's Chinatown is the epicenter of the city's Chinese community.
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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. 2018

Examples from the Web for epicentre

Historical Examples

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

    A Study of Recent Earthquakes

    Charles Davison

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

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

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for epicentre


US epicenter

  1. the point on the earth's surface directly above the focus of an earthquake or underground nuclear explosionCompare focus (def. 6)
  2. informal the absolute centre of somethingthe epicentre of world sprinting
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Derived Formsepicentral, 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

Word Origin and History for epicentre


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

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

epicentre in Science


  1. 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.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.