sui generis

adjective (1)
sui ge·​ner·​is | \ ˌsü-ˌī-ˈje-nə-rəs How to pronounce sui generis (audio) ; ˌsü-ē-ˈje-, -ˈge- How to pronounce sui generis (audio) \

Definition of sui generis

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: constituting a class alone : unique, peculiar

sui juris

adjective (2)
sui ju·​ris | \ ˌsü-ˌī-ˈju̇r-əs How to pronounce sui juris (audio) , ˌsü-ē-ˈyu̇r-\

Definition of sui juris (Entry 2 of 4)

: having full legal rights or capacity

homo sui juris

ho·​mo sui juris | \ ¦hō(ˌ)mō+\

Definition of homo sui juris (Entry 3 of 4)

: a person under his or her own control opposed to homo alieni juris

sui heredes

Definition of sui heredes (Entry 4 of 4)

plural of suus heres

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Synonyms for sui generis

Synonyms: Adjective (1)

alone, lone, one, one-off, only, singular, sole, solitary, special, unique

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Did You Know?

English contains many terms that ultimately trace back to the Latin forms gener- or "genus" (which are variously translated as "birth," "race," "kind," and "class"). Offspring of those roots include "general," "generate," "generous," "generic," "degenerate," and "gender." But "sui generis" is truly a one-of-a-kind "gener-" descendant that English speakers have used for singular things since the late 1600s. Its earliest uses were in scientific contexts, where it identified substances, principles, diseases, and even rocks that were unique or that seemed to be the only representative of their class or group. By the early 1900s, however, "sui generis" had expanded beyond solely scientific contexts, and it is now used more generally for anything that stands alone.

Examples of sui generis in a Sentence

Adjective (1)

among history's greats Leonardo da Vinci is often considered sui generis—a man of such stupendous genius that the world may never see his like again

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The troupe’s sui generis productions — skits, movement-rich vignettes and musical interludes, linked by retro motifs — are typically feats of comic whimsy, sometimes flecked with wistful lyricism. Celia Wren, Washington Post, "Angst and comedy among the Olympians in ‘Pantheon’," 24 June 2019 But the New York Times is sui generis in American journalism. Lionel Shriver, Harper's magazine, "Fifty-Fifty Follies," 10 June 2019 The entire league has benefited from their nous, and from the sui generis brilliance of Manchester City’s coach, Pep Guardiola. 1843, "A league of their own: how English clubs conquered Europe," 7 June 2019 The monster says little, but the multiplying chatter tells its own story about the country where, certainly not for the last time, a sui generis American star has been born. Julian Lucas, The New York Review of Books, "The Great Assimilationists," 21 Feb. 2019 But, in fact, sui generis city-states, even minicivilizations, often flourished in borderlands where superpowers met. Melik Kaylan, WSJ, "‘The World Between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East’ Review: A Creative Explosion Where Superpowers Collide," 26 Mar. 2019 While his play always seems ready to careen into disarray, Sexton showcased a sui generis ability to somehow finish a play, either by himself at the rim or finding an open teammate. Matthew Giles,, "Ranking the top 50 prospects in the 2018 NBA draft," 19 June 2018 Throughout his 20-some years as a creator of sui generis theater, Mr. Maxwell has practiced an art of extreme purification. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: Richard Maxwell Considers Life After Life in ‘Paradiso’," 16 Jan. 2018 The sui generis magic of Riccardo Barthel is a mélange of made-to-measure resourcefulness, expert editing, and superb styling. Maria Shollenbarger, ELLE Decor, "An Italian Design Firm Transforms Discreet-but-Luxe Kitchens with a Timeless Florentine Aesthetic," 18 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sui generis.' 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 sui generis

Adjective (1)

1694, in the meaning defined above

Adjective (2)

1675, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sui generis

Adjective (1)

Latin, of its own kind

Adjective (2)

Latin, of one's own right



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Statistics for sui generis

Last Updated

5 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for sui generis

The first known use of sui generis was in 1675

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More Definitions for sui generis

sui generis


English Language Learners Definition of sui generis

formal : in a class or group of its own : not like anything else

sui generis

sui ge·​ner·​is | \ ˈsü-ˌī-ˈje-nə-rəs, ˈsü-ē- How to pronounce sui generis (audio) \

Legal Definition of sui generis

: constituting a class alone : unique or particular to itself the lawyer's…ad that makes no distinction among various legal and factual nuances in each sui generis case has the potential to misleadNational Law Journal

History and Etymology for sui generis

Latin, of its own kind

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Nglish: Translation of sui generis for Spanish Speakers

Comments on sui generis

What made you want to look up sui generis? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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