- existing as the only one or as the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics: a unique copy of an ancient manuscript.
- having no like or equal; unparalleled; incomparable: Bach was unique in his handling of counterpoint.
- limited in occurrence to a given class, situation, or area: a species unique to Australia.
- limited to a single outcome or result; without alternative possibilities: Certain types of problems have unique solutions.
- not typical; unusual: She has a very unique smile.
- the embodiment of unique characteristics; the only specimen of a given kind: The unique is also the improbable.
Origin of unique
The earliest meanings of unique when it entered English around the beginning of the 17th century were “single, sole” and “having no equal.” By the mid-19th century unique had developed a wider meaning, “not typical, unusual,” and it is in this wider sense that it is compared: The foliage on the late-blooming plants is more unique than that on the earlier varieties. The comparison of so-called absolutes in senses that are not absolute is standard in all varieties of speech and writing.
See also a1, complete, perfect.
Related Words for uniqueexclusive, different, rare, uncommon, particular, exceptional, singular, extraordinary, strange, unparalleled, weird, unprecedented, special, individual, lone, one, only, separate, single, solitary
Examples from the Web for unique
Contemporary Examples of unique
Like Edgar, he remembers a unique time when American rappers came down and performed at the Primer Festival de Rap Cubano.Cuban Hip-Hop Was Born in Alamar
December 26, 2014
Christmas is unique in that it is a global holiday celebrated all over the world by humanity.A Field General in the War on Christmas
December 24, 2014
But that was probably the least unique thing about her childhood.Jena Malone’s Long, Strange Trip From Homelessness to Hollywood Stardom
December 22, 2014
Testino was commissioned to create a unique piece of work inspired by the six pillars that define The Macallan.
As Testino explains, he decided to interpret each of the pillars via six unique characters.
Historical Examples of unique
We have seen this unique book (now the property of Mr. Sam: Timmins).The Story of the Invention of Steel Pens
The view from the summit of the hill is commanding and beautiful, but its grape is unique.
Each moment in history is a fleeting time, precious and unique.
This river was not the least unique of our recent discoveries.
Their common decency in attitude toward the other sex was the unique bond of union.Within the Law
- being the only one of a particular type; single; sole
- without equal or like; unparalleled
- informal very remarkable or unusual
- leading to only one resultthe sum of two integers is unique
- having precisely one valuethe unique positive square root of 4 is 2
Word Origin for unique
c.1600, "single, solitary," from French unique, from Latin unicus "single, sole," from unus "one" (see one). Meaning "forming the only one of its kind" is attested from 1610s; erroneous sense of "remarkable, uncommon" is attested from mid-19c.