1. Situated at, in, or near the center: the central states.
2. Forming the center.
3. Having dominant or controlling power or influence: the company's central office.
4. Of basic importance; essential or principal: “Performance, including technological invention and artistic creation, will become central to education at all levels” (Frederick Turner).
5. Easily reached from various points: a central location for the new store.
6. Of or constituting a single source controlling all components of a system: central air conditioning.
a. Of, relating to, or originating from the nervous system.
b. Relating to a centrum.
8. Linguistics Articulated in the middle of the oral cavity; neither front nor back. Used of vowels, as the u in cut.
9. Holding to a moderate ideological position between two extremes.
a. A telephone exchange.
b. An operator at a telephone exchange.
2. A location or agency for the control or coordination of a group of related activities: air command central.
a. A place that is a notable site for a given activity: Their apartment was party central on weekends.
b. A place that is characterized by a high concentration of a given thing: On Saturdays, the zoo is toddler central.
[Latin centrālis, from centrum, center; see CENTER.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.