sui generis

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

: constituting a class alone : unique, peculiar

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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

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 Like California itself, so long isolated from the East and Midwest, California fast food was the first fast food, sui generis, and woe betide most interloper chains trying to cross the Rockies and the desert to plant themselves here. Los Angeles Times, 5 Apr. 2022 There’s a tendency to see Trump and his successful 2016 campaign as sui generis. Chris Cillizza, CNN, 4 Apr. 2022 And that is a sign of the feverish M&A marketplace for sui generis IP assets. Cynthia Littleton, Variety, 4 Apr. 2022 Over his more than fifty years at this magazine, George Booth, with his sui generis way of looking at the world, has established a style that is as instantly recognizable as it is beloved. Françoise Mouly, The New Yorker, 17 Jan. 2022 Few filmmakers have cast an eye back over childhood joys and growing pains with more piercing intimacy and resonant emotional connection than Richard Linklater in his sui generis masterwork, Boyhood. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Mar. 2022 The result is delightfully Amis, absolutely sui generis, and is best read, perhaps, at the bar with something warming at hand. Bill Tipper, WSJ, 26 Oct. 2021 This booze is sui generis, made from substrates as varied as plum pits, pasilla Mixe chiles, and kombucha, distilled not in a steampunk copper pot but in a vacuum still plucked from a chemistry lab. Adam Rogers, Wired, 2 Aug. 2021 By that point, Tate’s sui generis brilliance was widely acknowledged in our circles, and still barely touched by others. New York Times, 8 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of sui generis

1615, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sui generis

Latin, of its own kind

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The first known use of sui generis was in 1615

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Dictionary Entries Near sui generis


sui generis

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Last Updated

22 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sui generis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for sui generis

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

More from Merriam-Webster on sui generis

Nglish: Translation of sui generis for Spanish Speakers


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