ECCENTRIC (from Gr., out of, and , centre), literally "out from the centre," and thus used to connote generally any deviation from the normal. In astronomy the word denotes a circle round which a body revolves, but whose centre is displaced from the visible centre of motion. In the ancient astronomy the ellipses in which it is now known that the planets revolve around the Sun could not be distinguished from circles, but the unequal angular motion due to ellipticity was observed. The theory of the eccentric was that the centre of the epicycle of each planet moved uniformly in a circle, the centre of which was displaced from that of the earth by an amount double the eccentricity of the actual ellipse, as the case is now understood. When measured around this imaginary centre, which is so situated on the major axis of the ellipse that the focus, or place of the real Sun, is midway between it and the centre of the ellipse, the motion is approximately uniform. In engineering, an eccentric is a mechanical device for converting rotary into reciprocating motion (see Steam-engine). For eccentric angle see Ellipse.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)