unique

adjective
\ yu̇-ˈnēk How to pronounce unique (audio) \

Definition of unique

1 : being the only one : sole his unique concern was his own comfort I can't walk away with a unique copy. Suppose I lost it?— Kingsley Amis the unique factorization of a number into prime factors
2a : being without a like or equal : unequaled could stare at the flames, each one new, violent, unique— Robert Coover
b : distinctively characteristic : peculiar sense 1 this is not a condition unique to California— Ronald Reagan
c : able to be distinguished from all others of its class or type : distinct sense 1 You will see an assortment of digital tags that let the Web site identify your computer as a unique visitor.— Peter H. Lewis
3 : unusual a very unique ball-point pen we were fairly unique, the sixty of us, in that there wasn't one good mixer in the bunch— J. D. Salinger

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Other Words from unique

uniquely adverb
uniqueness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for unique

strange, singular, unique, peculiar, eccentric, erratic, odd, quaint, outlandish mean departing from what is ordinary, usual, or to be expected. strange stresses unfamiliarity and may apply to the foreign, the unnatural, the unaccountable. a journey filled with strange sights singular suggests individuality or puzzling strangeness. a singular feeling of impending disaster unique implies singularity and the fact of being without a known parallel. a career unique in the annals of science peculiar implies a marked distinctiveness. the peculiar status of America's first lady eccentric suggests a wide divergence from the usual or normal especially in behavior. the eccentric eating habits of preschoolers erratic stresses a capricious and unpredictable wandering or deviating. a friend's suddenly erratic behavior odd applies to a departure from the regular or expected. an odd sense of humor quaint suggests an old-fashioned but pleasant oddness. a quaint fishing village outlandish applies to what is uncouth, bizarre, or barbaric. outlandish fashions of the time

Can something be very unique or somewhat unique?: Usage Guide

Many commentators have objected to the comparison or modification (as by somewhat or very) of unique, often asserting that a thing is either unique or it is not. Objections are based chiefly on the assumption that unique has but a single absolute sense, an assumption contradicted by information readily available in a dictionary. Unique dates back to the 17th century but was little used until the end of the 18th when, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it was reacquired from French. H. J. Todd entered it as a foreign word in his edition (1818) of Johnson's Dictionary, characterizing it as "affected and useless." Around the middle of the 19th century it ceased to be considered foreign and came into considerable popular use. With popular use came a broadening of application beyond the original two meanings (here numbered senses 1 and 2a). In modern use both comparison and modification are widespread and standard but are confined to the extended senses 2b and 3. When sense 1 or sense 2a is intended, unique is used without qualifying modifiers.

Examples of unique in a Sentence

There are no clear blueprints to be discovered in history that can help us shape the future as we wish. Each historical event is a unique congeries of factors, people, or chronology. — Margaret McMillan, Dangerous Games, 2008 [Tiger] Wood's unique skill set was on display again at last week's U.S. Open, but this victory was more visceral. It was all heart. — Alan Shipnuck, Sports Illustrated, 23 June 2008 Space is a strange and unique item—you can't take it to a lab and analyze it like beef jerky. — Bob Berman, Astronomy, November 2007 A century ago a doctor was considered to be part of a social elite. He—and medicine was then very much a masculine endeavor—had a unique mastery of a special body of knowledge. He professed a commitment to levels of competence and integrity that he expected society to respect and trust. — Richard Horton, New York Review of Books, 31 May 2007 Most stars are not born in isolation but instead in groups of several thousand to tens of thousands, all of which emerge from the same parent cloud of gas. Each cloud has a unique and homogeneous mix of chemical elements and isotopes, which its stellar progeny inherits. Even when the stars disperse, they retain their unique chemical tag … — Rodrigo Ibata et al., Scientific American, April 2007 As a dozen new books will testify, our nation is in the midst of a great barbecue renaissance, with each region proudly claiming its own unique style. — Ruth Reichl, Gourmet, July 2005 She's in the unique position of running for office against her husband. Humans are unique among mammals in several respects.
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Recent Examples on the Web Though similar to quicksand, the local mudflats are unique. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "The true history of Cook Inlet’s deadly mudflats," 13 July 2020 Each of those teams was unique and Posey's role in handling the pitching staffs can't be overstated. Jesse Yomtov, USA TODAY, "Is Buster Posey a Hall of Famer? Giants catcher still has time to bolster résumé," 12 July 2020 And yet, just as every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, so every mosquito bite is unique. John Kelly, Washington Post, "The itch is back: Summer means mosquitoes and mosquitoes mean scratching," 12 July 2020 Its personality is unique, and well worth sampling. cleveland, "The 2020 Buick Encore GX is bigger, badder follow-up to the Encore SUV (review)," 11 July 2020 Some analysts pointed out that what is happening in China isn't unique. Laura He, CNN, "Chinese stocks are on an incredible run. But going too high, too fast is risky," 10 July 2020 Echelon Fitness Multimedia LLC, which Peloton has accused of offering a cheap knockoff of its fitness bikes, has launched an all-out battle to undermine Peloton’s claims that its service is unique. BostonGlobe.com, "Bath Iron Works lays off workers because of strike," 8 July 2020 His knife kit is unique — a silver barbecue tool box — and wouldn’t be mixed up with anyone else’s collection. Janelle Bitker, SFChronicle.com, "Black workers report patterns of racial discrimination in Bay Area restaurant industry," 7 July 2020 The citation of Mylan’s Indian plant was proof that Ranbaxy’s record was not unique, and Eban and Sony Salzman, her research collaborator, offered sweeping statistical data to this effect in an article published at the end of October. Daniel J. Kevles, The New York Review of Books, "The Scandal of Our Drug Supply," 6 July 2020

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

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for unique

French, from Latin unicus, from unus one — more at one

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Time Traveler for unique

Time Traveler

The first known use of unique was in 1601

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Statistics for unique

Last Updated

30 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Unique.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unique. Accessed 7 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for unique

unique

adjective
How to pronounce unique (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of unique

used to say that something or someone is unlike anything or anyone else
: very special or unusual
: belonging to or connected with only one particular thing, place, or person

unique

adjective
\ yu̇-ˈnēk How to pronounce unique (audio) \

Kids Definition of unique

1 : being the only one of its kind Every snowflake is unique.
2 : very unusual : notable a unique talent

Other Words from unique

uniquely adverb She is uniquely suited for this job.

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More from Merriam-Webster on unique

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unique

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with unique

Spanish Central: Translation of unique

Nglish: Translation of unique for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of unique for Arabic Speakers

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