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center (n.)

late 14c., "middle point of a circle; point round which something revolves," from Old French centre (14c.), from Latin centrum "center," originally the fixed point of the two points of a drafting compass (hence "the center of a circle"), from Greek kentron "sharp point, goad, sting of a wasp," from kentein "stitch," from PIE root *kent- "to prick" (source also of Breton kentr "a spur," Welsh cethr "nail," Old High German hantag "sharp, pointed").

The spelling with -re was popularized in Britain by Johnson's dictionary (following Bailey's), though -er is older and was used by Shakespeare, Milton, and Pope. Meaning "the middle of anything" attested from 1590s. Figuratively, "point of concentration" (of power, etc.) is from 1680s. Political use, originally in reference to France, "representatives of moderate views" (between left and right) is from 1837. Center of gravity is recorded from 1650s. Center of attention is from 1868.

center (v.)

1590s, "to concentrate at a center," from center (n.). Meaning "to rest as at a center" is from 1620s. Sports sense of "to hit toward the center" is from 1890. Related: Centered; centering. To be centered on is from 1713. In combinations, -centered is attested by 1958.

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Definitions of center from WordNet
1
center (n.)
an area that is approximately central within some larger region;
it is in the center of town
Synonyms: centre / middle / heart / eye
center (n.)
the piece of ground in the outfield directly ahead of the catcher;
he hit the ball to deep center
Synonyms: center field / centerfield
center (n.)
a building dedicated to a particular activity;
they were raising money to build a new center for research
Synonyms: centre
center (n.)
a point equidistant from the ends of a line or the extremities of a figure;
Synonyms: centre / midpoint
center (n.)
the choicest or most essential or most vital part of some idea or experience;
Synonyms: kernel / substance / core / centre / essence / gist / heart / heart and soul / inwardness / marrow / meat / nub / pith / sum / nitty-gritty
center (n.)
the object upon which interest and attention focuses;
his stories made him the center of the party
Synonyms: centre / center of attention / centre of attention
center (n.)
a cluster of nerve cells governing a specific bodily process;
in most people the speech center is in the left hemisphere
Synonyms: centre / nerve center / nerve centre
center (n.)
the middle of a military or naval formation;
they had to reinforce the center
center (n.)
(basketball) the person who plays center on a basketball team;
center (n.)
(football) the person who plays center on the line of scrimmage and snaps the ball to the quarterback;
the center fumbled the handoff
Synonyms: snapper
center (n.)
a place where some particular activity is concentrated;
they received messages from several centers
Synonyms: centre
center (n.)
politically moderate persons; centrists;
center (n.)
(ice hockey) the person who plays center on a hockey team;
center (n.)
the sweet central portion of a piece of candy that is enclosed in chocolate or some other covering;
Synonyms: centre
center (n.)
mercantile establishment consisting of a carefully landscaped complex of shops representing leading merchandisers; usually includes restaurants and a convenient parking area; a modern version of the traditional marketplace;
Synonyms: plaza / mall / shopping mall / shopping center / shopping centre
center (n.)
the position on a hockey team of the player who participates in the face off at the beginning of the game;
center (n.)
(American football) the position of the player on the line of scrimmage who puts the ball in play;
it is a center's responsibility to get the football to the quarterback
center (n.)
a position on a basketball team of the player who participates in the jump that starts the game;
2
center (v.)
center upon;
Her entire attention centered on her children
Synonyms: focus on / center on / revolve around / revolve about / concentrate on /
center (v.)
direct one's attention on something;
Synonyms: concentrate / focus / centre / pore / rivet
center (v.)
move into the center;
That vase in the picture is not centered
Synonyms: centre
3
center (adj.)
equally distant from the extremes;
Synonyms: halfway / middle / midway
center (adj.)
of or belonging to neither the right nor the left politically or intellectually;
From wordnet.princeton.edu