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non·​pa·​reil ˌnän-pə-ˈrel How to pronounce nonpareil (audio)
: having no equal
Her performance was nonpareil.
Our baker's cakes are nonpareil.
a nonpareil drummer


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: an individual of unequaled excellence : paragon
: a small flat disk of chocolate covered with white sugar pellets
: sugar in small pellets of various colors

Did you know?

Trace nonpareil back to its Middle French origins and you'll find that it comes from a term meaning "not equal." Pareil itself comes from a Latin par, which means "equal," and non- is a common prefix meaning "not." In addition to its adjectival use, nonpareil also functions as a noun describing an individual of unequaled excellence ("the nonpareil of cellists"), and as the name of a chocolate candy disk covered with small sugar pellets.

Examples of nonpareil in a Sentence

Adjective the nonpareil beauty of Helen of Troy Noun Elvis was the nonpareil of early American rock and roll. among the knights of the Round Table, Galahad stood alone as the nonpareil of nobility and selflessness
Recent Examples on the Web
Reveling in Tchaikovsky’s enduring melodies, Shelby’s band breathes new life into the piece that gracefully merges the great Russian composer with the orchestral language of two nonpareil jazz innovators and in addition, features original arrangements of holiday music and black spirituals. San Francisco Chronicle, 4 Nov. 2022 The great Pelé was a nonpareil scorer, a national hero in Brazil, and a global ambassador for soccer. Globe Staff,, 31 Dec. 2022 This year’s contest featured an impressive range of recipes, from lijena pita, a Serbian apple pie-like cookie made for St. Nicholas Day, to galletas grageas, a Mexican cookie coated in a rainbow of nonpareil sprinkles. Chicago Tribune Staff, Chicago Tribune, 30 Nov. 2022 The Beardsley exhibit, rich in original drawings, rare posters, holograph letters and much else, draws from the nonpareil collections of Mark Samuels Lasner. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, 13 Oct. 2022 Not even nonpareil evening soloist Yefim Bronfman could fill seats, apparently. Hannah Edgar, Chicago Tribune, 23 Sep. 2022 Her knowledge of world events, politics, and power structures was nonpareil. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, 8 Sep. 2022 He is assisted, as usual, by his nonpareil translator, Shelley Frisch. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, 1 June 2022 We’re transported to an elegant, serene, nonpareil shopping journey via the Daatselaar Fine Art & Antiques of Utrecht, the Netherlands, booth at TEFAF Maastricht. Natasha Gural, Forbes, 28 June 2022
The candy shop is also adding nonpareils (similar to Nestle’s Sno-Caps) in milk, dark, and white chocolate. Paris Wolfe, cleveland, 31 July 2023 Pipe onto pops and decorate with sanding sugar and nonpareils as desired. Woman's Day, 26 May 2023 Nita, in American terms, is something like a combination of Melinda Gates and Jackie Onassis: do-gooder nonpareil and national icon. Mark Rozzo, Town & Country, 2 Apr. 2023 For a festive coating, roll the truffles in sprinkles — rainbow nonpareils are fun here. Varu Chilakamarri, Washington Post, 3 Mar. 2023 The Sugar Cookie has slight plasticky undertones, like drinking a cup of sprinkles or nonpareils. Hartford Courant, 28 Feb. 2023 One member of this circle was Thomas G. Corcoran, a pixieish, ebullient, accordion-playing Irishman known as Tommy the Cork, who had been an aide to Franklin Roosevelt and had since become a legend in Washington as a political fixer and a fund-raiser nonpareil. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 4 Aug. 2021 In the bottom of the ninth inning of the seventh game, with the score tied, one out and the bases loaded, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Luis Gonzalez, a left-handed hitter, faced Mariano Rivera, the closer nonpareil of the Yankees. Bruce Weber, New York Times, 16 Feb. 2023 This regional nonpareil was invented in the 1920s by a former fireman named John Burklund who moved to the U.S. from Sweden. Maggie Hennessy, Bon Appétit, 24 Oct. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nonpareil.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adjective and Noun

Middle English nounparalle, from Middle French nompareil, from non- + pareil equal, from Vulgar Latin *pariculus, from Latin par equal

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined above


circa 1500, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of nonpareil was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near nonpareil

Cite this Entry

“Nonpareil.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
non·​pa·​reil ˌnän-pə-ˈrel How to pronounce nonpareil (audio)
: having no equal : peerless


2 of 2 noun
: an individual of unequaled excellence : paragon

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