adjective Etymology: French, from Latin unicus, from unus one — more at one Date: 1602 1. being the only one ; sole <
his unique concern was his own comfort
I can't walk away with a unique copy. Suppose I lost it? — Kingsley Amis
the unique factorization of a number into prime factors
2. a. being without a like or equal ; unequaled <
could stare at the flames, each one new, violent, unique — Robert Coover
b. distinctively characteristic ; peculiar 1 <
this is not a condition unique to California — Ronald Reagan
3. unusual <
a very unique ball-point pen
we were fairly unique, the sixty of us, in that there wasn't one good mixer in the bunch — J. D. Salinger
Synonyms: see strangeuniquely adverbuniqueness noun Usage: Many commentators have objected to the comparison or modification (as by somewhat or very) of unique, often asserting that a thing is either unique or it is not. Objections are based chiefly on the assumption that unique has but a single absolute sense, an assumption contradicted by information readily available in a dictionary. Unique dates back to the 17th century but was little used until the end of the 18th when, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it was reacquired from French. H. J. Todd entered it as a foreign word in his edition (1818) of Johnson's Dictionary, characterizing it as “affected and useless.” Around the middle of the 19th century it ceased to be considered foreign and came into considerable popular use. With popular use came a broadening of application beyond the original two meanings (here numbered 1 and 2a). In modern use both comparison and modification are widespread and standard but are confined to the extended senses 2b and 3. When sense 1 or sense 2a is intended, unique is used without qualifying modifiers.

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • unique — [ ynik ] adj. • 1480; lat. unicus, de unus « un » I ♦ (Sens quantitatif) 1 ♦ (Avant ou après le nom) Qui est un seul, n est pas accompagné d autres du même genre. REM. Unique a plus de force placé après le nom; il ne peut alors être remplacé par… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • unique — 1. This is one of a handful of words that give rise to strong feelings. Its primary meaning is ‘having no like or equal, peculiar to an individual’: • Throughout these fluctuations of fortune, Edith s unique teaching style was getting more finely …   Modern English usage

  • unique — Unique. adj. de tout genre. Seul. Fils unique, frere unique du Roy. unique heritier. le phenix est unique en son espece. vous estes l unique de ce sentiment là. on ne trouve plus ce livre, j en ay l unique exemplaire qui reste. la charge de… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • unique — UK US /juːˈniːk/ adjective ► something that is unique is unusual or the only one of its type: »Fast growing companies are in a unique position to attract the best candidates. »Over the past 15 years, she has made a unique contribution to the… …   Financial and business terms

  • Unique — steht für: Jenaer Studierenden Zeitschrift mit den Schwerpunkten Interkulturalität und Politik, siehe Unique (Zeitschrift) ehemaliger Name der Betreibergesellschaft des Flughafens Zürich,siehe Flughafen Zürich AG Unique (Cyclecar), britische… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • unique — unique·ly; unique·ness; bi·unique; unique; …   English syllables

  • unique — [yo͞o nēk′] adj. [Fr < L unicus, single < unus,ONE] 1. one and only; single; sole [a unique specimen] 2. having no like or equal; unparalleled [a unique achievement] 3. highly unusual, extraordinary, rare, etc.: a common usage still… …   English World dictionary

  • Unique — U*nique , a. [F. unique; cf. It. unico; from L. unicus, from unus one. See {One}.] Being without a like or equal; unmatched; unequaled; unparalleled; single in kind or excellence; sole. {U*nique ly}, adv. {U*nique ness}, n. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Unique — U*nique , n. A thing without a like; something unequaled or unparalleled. [R.] [1913 Webster] The phenix, the unique pf birds. De Quincey. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • unique — c.1600, single, solitary, from Fr. unique, from L. unicus single, sole, from unus one (see ONE (Cf. one)). Meaning forming the only one of its kind is attested from 1610s; erroneous sense of remarkable, uncommon is attested from mid 19c …   Etymology dictionary

  • unique — [adj1] alone, singular different, exclusive, individual, lone, one, one and only*, onliest*, only, particular, rare, separate, single, solitary, solo, sui generis, uncommon, unexampled; concepts 564,577 Ant. common, commonplace, normal, usual… …   New thesaurus

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