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

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Two leading off-Broadway companies, the Irish Repertory Theatre and the Mint Theater, are doing so as well, and the artistic and technical quality of their webcasts is nonpareil. Terry Teachout, WSJ, "The Best Theater of 2020: With Broadway Dark Due to Covid-19, an At-Home Curtain Call," 13 Dec. 2020 Apple's reputation as a product hitmaker is nonpareil. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "What if Apple’s new Mac chips are trash?," 10 Nov. 2020 For countless Americans, the United States military epitomizes nonpareil technological advantage. Will Roper, Wired, "There's No Turning Back on AI in the Military," 24 Oct. 2020 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 Once royal icing is set, use small dab of it to stick on nonpareil for nose. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Sheep Cupcakes," 27 Feb. 2020 While the iced cookies are still wet, attach the small pearl nonpareils. Bh&g Holiday Editors, Better Homes & Gardens, "6 Stunning Easter Cookie Decorating Ideas You Need to Try This Weekend," 7 Apr. 2020 Yet the generation that knows Jim Crow America only from hearsay ought to know what Belafonte explicates in this aggrieved, damaged, nonpareil persona. Armond White, National Review, "Kansas City: Belafonte’s Greatest Political Lecture on Film," 11 Mar. 2020 Tom Brady has already had the storybook ending to his nonpareil football career. Chad Finn,, "Why Tom Brady should not — cannot — play for another team," 8 Jan. 2020 Decorate cookie with a mix of green nonpareils and jimmies around the outer edge to mimic a wreath. Nancy Stohs, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Molasses Lavender Honey Cookies (Fourth Place)," 3 Dec. 2019 When cookies are cool, brush tops with glaze and sprinkle with nonpareils. Nancy Stohs, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "14 Holiday Cookie Contest winning recipes, ahead of this year's Dec. 4 reveal," 29 Nov. 2019 Owner Carl Fogarty has an impressive collection of antiques, but his treasure trove of vintage maps, currency and books is nonpareil. Claire Goodman, Houston Chronicle, "ICYMI: Have yourself a Katy little Christmas: a guide to Katy gift giving," 27 Nov. 2019 Turns out President Trump, that TV addict nonpareil, watches it this way, too. Hank Stuever, Washington Post, "Is there a right way to watch the impeachment hearings? Yes, just let it wash over you.," 20 Nov. 2019

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

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Nonpareil.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for nonpareil



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

More from Merriam-Webster on nonpareil

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nonpareil

Nglish: Translation of nonpareil for Spanish Speakers

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