1. One’s own; belonging solely or especially to an individual; not possessed by others; of private, personal, or characteristic possession and use; not owned in common or in participation. And purify unto himself a peculiar people. (Titus II. 14) Hymns . . . That christianity hath peculiar unto itself. (hooker)
2. Particular; individual; special; appropriate. While each peculiar power forgoes his wonted seat. (milton) My fate is Juno’s most peculiar care. (Dryden)
3. Unusual; singular; rare; strange; as, the sky had a peculiarappearance.
Synonym: Peculiar, Special, Especial.
Peculiar is from the roman peculium, which was a thing emphatically and distinctively one’s own, and hence was dear. The former sense always belongs to peculiar (as, a peculiar style, peculiar manners, etc), and usually so much of the latter as to involve feelings of interest; as, peculiar care, watchfulness, satisfaction, etc. Nothing of this kind belongs to special and especial. They mark simply the relation of species to genus, and denote that there is something in this case more than ordinary; as, a special act of Congress; especial pains, etc. Beauty, which, either walking or asleep, shot forth peculiar graces. (milton) For naught so vile that on the earth doth live, But to the earth some special good doth give. (Shak)
Origin: L. Peculiaris, fr. Peculium private property, akin to pecunia money: cf. OF. Peculier. See Pecuniary.