Definition of nonpareil
- Her performance was nonpareil.
- Our baker's cakes are nonpareil.
- a nonpareil drummer
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
the nonpareil beauty of Helen of Troy
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.
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
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
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.
: better than any other : having no equal
: someone or something that is better than any other
: a candy that is a small, flat, round piece of chocolate covered with tiny balls made of sugar
What made you want to look up nonpareil? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
of yeast or being unsettled or frivolous
Get Word of the Day daily email!
Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!
Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!TAKE THE QUIZ
Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.TAKE THE QUIZ