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Word of the Day
Saturday, June 17, 2017

Definitions for sui generis

  1. Latin. of his, her, its, or their own kind; unique.

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Citations for sui generis
It had nothing in common with other wigs. It was like its owner, perfectly sui generis. Charles Lever, Jack Hinton, the Guardsman, 1843
In an earlier case also involving a dog’s role in bringing about a search, United States v. Place, the Court described the “canine sniff” as “sui generis,” highlighting that the dog nose is a tool quite unlike any human investigative tools. Alexandra Horowitz, "What the Dog Knows," The New Yorker, February 23, 2013
Origin of sui generis
Sui generis “of its own kind, unique” comes from the Latin reflexive adjective suus “(one’s) own” and the noun genus “birth, descent, origin.” The phrase is in the genitive case, singular number, neuter gender; the nominative plural of genus is genera, and both words are familiar in English from their use in taxonomic names. French developments from Latin genus, generis include gendre and genre, the immediate source of English gender and genre. The Latin pair genus, generis has the same source as Greek génos, génous (also dialect géneos) “race, descent.” Both the Latin pair and the Greek pair come from Proto-Indo-European genos, geneses (for Latin) / genesos (for Greek), from the root gen-. From the Greek root we have genesis, genetic, gene, etc. Greek genesis “origin, source, descent” is a learned borrowing in Latin and is correctly used for the name of first book of the Bible, but the Latin phrase sui genesis (instead of sui generis) means “origin of itself” and is nonsense. Sui generis entered English in the nth century.