non·​pa·​reil | \ ˌnän-pə-ˈrel How to pronounce nonpareil (audio) \

Definition of nonpareil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having no equal Her performance was nonpareil. Our baker's cakes are nonpareil. a nonpareil drummer



Definition of nonpareil (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an individual of unequaled excellence : paragon
2a : a small flat disk of chocolate covered with white sugar pellets
b : sugar in small pellets of various colors

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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 Vulgar Latin form of "par," which means "equal." "Nonpareil" has served as an English adjective since the 15th century, and since the late 16th century it has also functioned as a noun describing an individual of unequaled excellence. In 1612, Captain John Smith used the term in that noun sense (but with a now-archaic spelling): "Pocahontas, Powhatan's daughter ... was the very Nomparell of his kingdome, and at most not past 13 or 14 years of age." And as you may know, "nonpareil" is also the name of a chocolate candy covered with white sugar pellets.

Examples of nonpareil in a Sentence


the nonpareil beauty of Helen of Troy


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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Golden State remains on a title quest and San Antonio’s nonpareil consistency is well-established, so the narratives aren’t shifting anytime soon. Jeremy Woo,, "Strange Starts Aside, Warriors Still A Difficult Problem for Spurs to Solve," 2 Nov. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Cheney himself—exquisitely realized by Christian Bale from his beginnings as a drunken adolescent in Wyoming to his full-flowering, 40 years and at least 40 pounds later, as nonpareil hoarder and wielder of power under Bush 43—though, is no joke. Corey Seymour, Vogue, "Should You See Adam McKay’s New Film, Vice?," 20 Dec. 2018 Lamb: Frost cupcake with white buttercream, then roll in white nonpareils to cover. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Spring Animal Cupcakes," 7 Mar. 2019 Pipe a line of frosting around the hat and sprinkle with nonpareils or desiccated coconut. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Snowy Cookie Truffles," 30 Nov. 2018 Create tree with dark and light green nonpareils and outline quilt with red string licorice and edible red confetti. Decorate sides: Attach mini pretzel sticks with royal icing and pipe royal icing to create crosshatches. Taylor Murray, Country Living, "Gingerbread Barn," 19 Nov. 2018 Carefully lift cake from the top and bottom and roll the sides in nonpareils to coat. Tara Bench, Country Living, "Pine Tree Cake," 9 Nov. 2016 There was always its food and nonpareil service—gracious, respectful, ever present but never intrusive—but also innovations small and large that kept all classes of fliers happy. David Denicolo, Town & Country, "Here's What It's Like to Fly in the Ultimate First Class Cabin," 14 Mar. 2018 While still slightly wet, sprinkle each cookie with yellow nonpareils. Anna Helm Baxter, Woman's Day, "Cookie Chicks," 7 Mar. 2018 Since then, Merlo said prices have fallen to $3.10 a pound for nonpareils. Dale Kasler, Phillip Reese And Ryan Sabalow, sacbee, "California almonds, partly blamed for water shortage, now dropping in price | The Sacramento Bee," 30 Jan. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nonpareil.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of nonpareil


15th century, in the meaning defined above


circa 1500, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nonpareil

Adjective and Noun

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

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Time Traveler for nonpareil

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

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English Language Learners Definition of nonpareil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

formal : better than any other : having no equal



English Language Learners Definition of nonpareil (Entry 2 of 2)

formal : someone or something that is better than any other
US : a candy that is a small, flat, round piece of chocolate covered with tiny balls made of sugar

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More from Merriam-Webster on nonpareil

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nonpareil

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nonpareil

Spanish Central: Translation of nonpareil

Nglish: Translation of nonpareil for Spanish Speakers

Comments on nonpareil

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concealment of treason or felony

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