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When to Use Unique

Is it really unique?

Have you ever heard someone say "very unique"? Did it sound strange? Unique, which means "the only one of its kind," is an "uncomparable adjective." It describes "an absolute state or condition" like pregnant. Therefore, it should not be given a comparative descriptor, which measures people and things to identify similarities and differences. For example, unique should not have a comparative suffix such as -er or -est or be coupled with comparative terms like more or less. It is also best not to intensify its meaning with words like very or quite.

If something, for example a circumstance or an offer, is not unique (i.e., one of a kind), then a more appropriate word might be exceptional, exclusive, rare, special, or unusual.


Encarta Dictionary

The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, The University of Chicago Press (2003)

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