[cen.ter] n [ME centre, fr. MF, fr. L centrum, fr. Gk kentron sharp point, center of a circle, fr. kentein to prick; prob. akin to OHG hantag pointed] (14c) 1 a: the point around which a circle or sphere is described; broadly: a point that is related to a geometrical figure in such a way that for any point on the figure there is another point on the figure such that a straight line joining the two points is bisected by the original point--called also center of symmetry b: the center of the circle inscribed in a regular polygon
2. a: a point, area, person, or thing that is most important or pivotal in relation to an indicated activity, interest, or condition "a railroad ~" "the ~ of the controversy" b: a source from which something originates "a propaganda ~" c: a gr oup of nerve cells having a common function "respiratory ~" d: a region of concentrated population "an urban ~" e: a facility providing a place for a particular activity or service "a day-care ~" 3 a: the middle part (as of the forehead or a stage) b often cap (1): a grouping of political figures holding moderate views esp. between those of conservatives and liberals (2): the views of such politicians (3): the adherents of such views
4. a: a player occupying a middle position on a team: as (1): the football player in the middle of a line who passes the ball between his legs to a back to start a down (2): the usu. tallest player on a basketball team who usu. plays near the basket b: center field
5. a: either of two tapered rods which support work in a lathe or grinding machine and about or with which the work revolves b: a conical recess in the end of work (as a shaft) for receiving such a center -- cen.ter.less adj
center vb cen.tered ; cen.ter.ing vt (1610) 1: to place or fix at or around a center or central area or position "~ the picture on the wall"
2: to give a central focus or basis "~s her hopes on her son" "the plot was ~ed on espionage"
3: to adjust (as lenses) so that the axes coincide
4. a: to pass (a ball or puck) from either side toward the middle of the playing area b: to hand or pass (a football) backward between one's legs to a back to start a down ~ vi: to have a specified center: focus usage The intransitive verb center is most commonly used with the prepositions in, on, at, and around. At appears to be favored in mathematical contexts; the others are found in a broad range of contexts. Center around, a standard idiom, has often been objected to as illogical. The logic on which the objections are based is irrelevant, since center around is an idiom and idioms have their own logic. Center on is currently more common in edited prose, and revolve around and similar verbs are available if you want to avoid center around.