This word had a precise meaning at one time predominately associated with earthquakes. The center of the earthquake could be several miles underground; the epicenter was the point on the earth's surface directly above it.
But now I hear it frequently used more generally in phases like "Florida is about to become the new COVID-19 epicenter". Merriam Webster says it refers to the center of something powerful analogous to an earthquake. But from recent usage, I think it is even more general than that. I sense that epicenter is used because it sounds more sophisticated than center. I also suspect that it is being used to refer to an approximate center relegating "center" to a more precise specification. "Millennials are the epicenter of a new sense of entitlement" but "George was the center of attention"
Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.
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