sui generis

play
adjective sui ge·ner·is \ˌsü-ˌī-ˈje-nə-rəs; ˌsü-ē-ˈje-, -ˈge-\

Definition of sui generis

  1. :  constituting a class alone :  unique, peculiar

sui generis was our Word of the Day on 05/13/2013. Hear the podcast!

Examples of sui generis in a Sentence

  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

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.

Origin and Etymology of sui generis

Latin, of its own kind


First Known Use: 1694


SUI GENERIS Defined for English Language Learners

sui generis

play
adjective sui ge·ner·is \ˌsü-ˌī-ˈje-nə-rəs; ˌsü-ē-ˈje-, -ˈge-\

Definition of sui generis for English Language Learners

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


Law Dictionary

sui generis

play
adjective sui ge·ner·is \ˈsü-ˌī-ˈje-nə-rəs, ˈsü-ē-\

Legal Definition of sui generis

  1. :  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 mislead — National Law Journal

Origin and Etymology of sui generis

Latin, of its own kind



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

a small amount

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • winning-words-from-the-national-spelling-bee-logo
  • Which is the correct spelling of the winning word from 1988?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!