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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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

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 Below is a reading list of articles published in the week-and-a-half since Bryant’s death that address both his sui generis athletic skillset, but also how to talk about a celebrity whose death is more than several paragraphs of any obituary: 1. Matt Giles, Longreads, "“The Ugliness of Greatness”: A Kobe Bryant Reading List," 12 Feb. 2020 Tanuki Southeast Portland’s sui generis, no-kids-allowed, two-days-a-week Okinawan/Korean omakase spot pulled the plug in January after nearly a decade at two locations, first in Northwest Portland, then SOutheast Portland’s Montavilla neighborhood. oregonlive, "Portland’s most painful restaurant closures of 2019," 27 Dec. 2019 As myriad analysts have already argued, Trump is not a sui generis figure, but a symptom of American politics and, in particular, of the radicalization of the American right. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Trump’s impeachment battle is part of a bigger global crisis in democracy," 4 Oct. 2019 The two cracked beams proved to be sui generis, the problem confined to a single stretch of roof above Fremont Street. John Brant, Popular Mechanics, "It Was Supposed to Be the Safest Building in the World. Then It Cracked.," 25 Oct. 2019 And that, perhaps, is Alice Neel’s best last laugh: nakedly herself, sui generis, and hot in demand up and down the Eastern seaboard. Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "Searching for Myself in Alice Neel’s Radical Portraits," 26 Feb. 2019 These recurring premises took shape as a series of aggressively odd books, each sui generis in its formal and compositional mechanics. Paul Grimstad, The New Yorker, "The Absolute Originality of Georges Perec," 16 July 2019 Chamberlain, on the other hand, is sui generis, which is surely part of her appeal. Taylor Lorenz, The Atlantic, "Emma Chamberlain and the Rise of the Relatable YouTuber," 3 July 2019 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

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

1694, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sui generis

Latin, of its own kind

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Time Traveler for sui generis

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The first known use of sui generis was in 1694

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Last Updated

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sui generis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for sui generis

sui generis

How to pronounce sui generis (audio) How to pronounce sui generis (audio)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on sui generis

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sui generis

Nglish: Translation of sui generis for Spanish Speakers

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