See more synonyms for single on
  1. only one in number; one only; unique; sole: a single example.
  2. of, relating to, or suitable for one person only: a single room.
  3. solitary or sole; lone: He was the single survivor.
  4. unmarried or not in a romantic relationship: a single man.
  5. pertaining to the unmarried state: the single life.
  6. of or noting a parent who brings up a child or children alone, without a partner.
  7. of one against one, as combat or fight.
  8. consisting of only one part, element, or member: a single lens.
  9. sincere and undivided: single devotion.
  10. separate, particular, or distinct; individual: Every single one of you must do your best. It's the single most important thing.
  11. uniform; applicable to all: a single safety code for all manufacturers.
  12. (of a bed or bedclothes) twin-size.
  13. (of a flower) having only one set of petals.
  14. British. of standard strength or body, as ale, beer, etc.Compare double(def 1).
  15. (of the eye) seeing rightly.
verb (used with object), sin·gled, sin·gling.
  1. to pick or choose (one) from others (usually followed by out): to single out a fact for special mention.
  2. Baseball.
    1. to cause the advance of (a base runner) by a one-base hit.
    2. to cause (a run) to be scored by a one-base hit (often followed by in or home).
verb (used without object), sin·gled, sin·gling.
  1. Baseball. to hit a single.
  1. one person or thing; a single one.
  2. an accommodation suitable for one person only, as a hotel room or a table at a restaurant: to reserve a single.
  3. a ticket for a single seat at a theater.
  4. British.
    1. a one-way ticket.
    2. a steam locomotive having one driving wheel on each side.
  5. singles, people who are unmarried or not in a romantic relationship, especially if relatively young: It's not uncommon for singles to feel lonely on Valentine Day.
  6. Baseball. Also called one-base hit. a base hit that enables a batter to reach first base safely.
  7. singles, (used with a singular verb) a match with one player on each side, as a tennis match.
  8. Golf. twosome(def 4).
  9. Cricket. a hit for which one run is scored.
  10. Informal. a one-dollar bill.
  11. Music.
    1. a phonograph record, CD, or cassette usually having two songs: I probably won't buy the single.
    2. one of the songs recorded on a single: a hit single.
    3. a song released or promoted separately from the rest of the album to which it belongs: A viral video put that single back on the charts.
  12. Often singles. Textiles.
    1. reeled or spun silk that may or may not be thrown.
    2. a one-ply yarn of any fiber that has been drawn and twisted.

Origin of single

1275–1325; late Middle English (adj.), Middle English sengle < Old French < Latin singulus individual, single (usually in the plural singuli one apiece), derivative of *sem- one (see simplex)
Related formsqua·si-sin·gle, adjectivequa·si-sin·gly, adverbun·sin·gle, adjective
Can be confusedsignal singlesingle singular

Synonyms for single

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for single

Contemporary Examples of single

Historical Examples of single

  • He had united them and he had made them the first of all nations to worship a single God.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • It is a single round, low tower, shaped like the tomb of Cacilia Metella.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • He was rich and he was willing to take the daughter without a single penny.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • They are not the principles of a province or of a single continent.

  • The bare reference to a single consideration will be conclusive on this point.

British Dictionary definitions for single


adjective (usually prenominal)
  1. existing alone; solitaryupon the hill stood a single tower
  2. distinct from other things; unique or individual
  3. composed of one part
  4. designed for one usera single room; a single bed
  5. (also postpositive) unmarried
  6. connected with the condition of being unmarriedhe led a single life
  7. (esp of combat) involving two individuals; one against one
  8. sufficient for one person or thing onlya single portion of food
  9. even onethere wasn't a single person on the beach
  10. (of a flower) having only one set or whorl of petals
  11. determined; single-mindeda single devotion to duty
  12. (of the eye) seeing correctlyto consider something with a single eye
  13. rare honest or sincere; genuine
  14. archaic (of ale, beer, etc) mild in strength
  1. something forming one individual unit
  2. an unmarried person
  3. a gramophone record, CD, or cassette with a short recording, usually of pop music, on it
  4. golf a game between two players
  5. cricket a hit from which one run is scored
    1. Britisha pound note
    2. US and Canadiana dollar note
  6. See single ticket
  1. (tr usually foll by out) to select from a group of people or things; distinguish by separationhe singled him out for special mention
  2. (tr) to thin out (seedlings)
  3. short for single-foot
See also singles
Derived Formssingleness, noun

Word Origin for single

C14: from Old French sengle, from Latin singulus individual
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

Word Origin and History for single

early 14c., "unmarried," from Old French sengle, sangle "alone, unaccompanied; simple, unadorned," from Latin singulus "one, one to each, individual, separate" (usually in plural singuli "one by one"), from sim- (stem of simplus; see simple) + diminutive suffix. Meaning "consisting of one unit, individual, unaccompanied by others" is from late 14c. Meaning "undivided" is from 1580s. Single-parent (adj.) is attested from 1966.


c.1400, "unmarried person," mid-15c., "a person alone, an individual," from single (adj.). Given various technical meanings from 16c. Sports sense is attested from 1851 (cricket), 1858 (baseball). Of single things from 1640s. Meaning "one-dollar bill" is from 1936. Meaning "phonograph record with one song on each side" is from 1949. Meaning "unmarried swinger" is from 1964; singles bar attested from 1969. An earlier modern word for "unmarried or unattached person" is singleton (1937).


"to separate from the herd" (originally in deer-hunting, often with forth or out), 1570s, from single (adj.). Baseball sense of "to make a one-base hit" is from 1899 (from the noun meaning "one-base hit," attested from 1858). Related: Singled; singling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with single


In addition to the idioms beginning with single

  • single file, in
  • single out

also see:

  • each and every (every single)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.