[ in-duh-vij-oo-uhl ]
See synonyms for: individualindividuals on

  1. a single human being, as distinguished from a group.

  2. a person: A strange individual came around asking if we wanted to buy any lamps.

  1. a distinct, indivisible entity; a single thing, being, instance, or item.

  2. a group considered as a unit.

  3. Biology.

    • a single organism capable of independent existence.

    • a member of a compound organism or colony.

  4. Cards. a duplicate-bridge tournament in which each player plays the same number of hands in partnership with every other player, individual scores for each player being kept for each hand.

  1. single; particular; separate: It's standard practice to number individual copies of a limited edition.

  2. intended for the use of one person only: Servers handed out individual portions of a pizza to guests at the party.

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of a particular person or thing: The decor was highly reflective of his individual tastes.

  2. distinguished by special, singular, or markedly personal characteristics; exhibiting unique or unusual qualities: She was known for her highly individual style of painting.

  3. existing as a distinct, indivisible entity, or considered as such; discrete: It can be difficult to replace individual parts of a tea set if one breaks.

  4. belonging to a set or group of which each is different or of a different design from the others: For Christmas they got a set of individual coffee cups.

Origin of individual

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English, from Medieval Latin indīviduālis, equivalent to Latin indīviduus “indivisible” (from in- negative prefix + dīviduus “divided or divisible into two parts”) + -ālis adjective suffix; cf. in-3, divide, -al1

synonym study For individual

2. See person.

usage note For individual

1, 2. As a synonym for person, individual is standard, occurring in all varieties of speech and writing: Three individuals entered the room, each carrying a sheaf of papers. Some object to this use, insisting that individual can mean only “a single human being, as distinguished from a group”: An individual may have concerns that are ignored by their party.

Other words from individual

  • in·ter·in·di·vid·u·al, adjective
  • non·in·di·vid·u·al, adjective
  • su·per·in·di·vid·u·al, adjective, noun
  • su·per·in·di·vid·u·al·ly, adverb
  • trans·in·di·vid·u·al, adjective

Words that may be confused with individual

  • individual , person (see usage note at the current entry)

Words Nearby individual Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use individual in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for individual


/ (ˌɪndɪˈvɪdjʊəl) /

  1. of, relating to, characteristic of, or meant for a single person or thing

  2. separate or distinct, esp from others of its kind; particular: please mark the individual pages

  1. characterized by unusual and striking qualities; distinctive

  2. obsolete indivisible; inseparable

  1. a single person, esp when regarded as distinct from others

  2. biology

    • a single animal or plant, esp as distinct from a species

    • a single member of a compound organism or colony

  1. logic

    • Also called: particular an object as opposed to a property or class

    • an element of the domain of discourse of a theory

Origin of individual

C15: from Medieval Latin indīviduālis, from Latin indīviduus indivisible, from in- 1 + dīviduus divisible, from dīvidere to divide

Derived forms of individual

  • individually, adverb

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012