Etymology
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uncanny (adj.)

1590s, in a now-obsolete meaning "mischievous, malicious;" also in 17c., "careless, incautious; unreliable, not to be trusted," from un- (1) "not" + canny (q.v.) in its old Scots and Northern English sense of "skillful, prudent, lucky" (it is a doublet of cunning).

Canny had also a sense of "superstitiously lucky; skilled in magic." In Wright's "English Dialect Dictionary" (1900) the first sense of uncanny as used in Scotland and the North is "awkward, unskilful; careless; imprudent; inconvenient." The second is "Unearthly, ghostly, dangerous from supernatural causes ; ominous, unlucky ; of a person : possessed of supernatural powers".

From 1773, uncanny appears in popular literature from the North (Robert Fergusson, Scott), with reference to persons and in a sense of "not quite safe to trust or deal with through association with the supernatural." By 1843 it had a general sense in English of "having a supernatural character, weird, mysterious, strange." (OED notes this as "Common from c 1850"; Borges considers it untranslatable but notes that German unheimlich answers to it.)

The Scottish writers also use it with the meanings "unpleasantly hard; dangerous, unsafe."

updated on April 02, 2022

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Definitions of uncanny from WordNet

uncanny (adj.)
suggesting the operation of supernatural influences; "stumps...had uncanny shapes as of monstrous creatures"- John Galsworthy; "he could hear the unearthly scream of some curlew piercing the din"- Henry Kingsley;
Synonyms: eldritch / weird / unearthly
uncanny (adj.)
surpassing the ordinary or normal; "Beyond his preternatural affability there is some acid and some steel" - George Will;
his uncanny sense of direction
Synonyms: preternatural
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.