The point of the earth's surface directly above the focus of an earthquake.
A focal point: stood at the epicenter of the international crisis.
Usage Note: Epicenter is properly a geological term identifying the point of the earth's surface directly above the focus of an earthquake. No doubt this is why the Usage Panel approves of figurative extensions of its use in dangerous, destructive, or negative contexts. Eighty-two percent of the Panel accepts the sentence If Rushdie were not at the terrifying epicenter of this furor, it is the sort of event he might write about. The Panel is less fond but still accepting of epicenter when it is used to refer to the focal point of neutral or positive events. Sixty-two percent approve of the sentence The indisputable epicenter of Cortina's social life is the Hotel de la Poste, located squarely in the village center.
The point on the Earth's surface that is directly above the focus (the point of origin) of an earthquake. The epicenter is usually the location where the greatest damage associated with an earthquake occurs. See Note at earthquake.