I have often referred to my music tastes as being eclectic, until I recently encountered a possible aspect to the definition I had not previously considered. In referencing musical tastes, there are different bands and those bands fit into different genres. The bands would be the objects and the genres the set they are part of.

Is it valid for me to use the word eclectic when I am referring only to the number of objects (bands) within a single set (genre)? I have found the dictionary.com and wiktionary.com definitions, but cannot find anything that gives any further details.

  • 1
    I don't believe numbers have anything to do with eclecticity. – Peter Shor Sep 18 '15 at 18:38
  • 2
    Can you provide an example of the word being used in the manner you're asking about? – Aurast Sep 18 '15 at 18:45
  • CDO gives the usual definition: 'Methods, beliefs, ideas, etc. that are eclectic combine whatever seem the best or most useful things from many different areas or systems, rather than following a single system: an eclectic style/approach. ' Although you could argue that a choice including elements from different sub-genres within a single genre constitutes eclecticism, I think it would be reasonable to explain this usage, as the antonym 'narrow' seems equally justified. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 13 '16 at 9:10

Do you mean:

"Looking at Steve's classic rock set, which has ten tunes. It's an eclectic selection!"

Sure, that's totally OK.

"Big" can mean the Empire State Building, but, it is then completely OK to use "big" in context, referring to, one office inside the Empire State Building. ("Office 309 is really big compared to the others on the 3rd floor...")

So no problem.

An interesting issue is, can one use "eclectic" for a single item?

In my opinion, yes you can. For example "His favorite album is Jacob do Bandolim" "Now that's eclectic!" For me, it's reasonable to say that: after all, everything has context. Sure, if we were all Sao Paolo natives and guitarists, it would be of no consequence to mention Jacob do Bandolim. But we're all from California and we're all teenagers who are waiting for the next season of The 100. In that context, it's perfectly reasonable, IMO, to say that Jacob do Bandolim is the "type of album" that would be listed by someone with eclectic tastes.

So, just a thought there.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.