The uniqueness of unique

unique

“Very unique”, “most unique”, “completely unique” are some phrases I hear a lot these days. Many a time I thought only people who don’t have a good understanding of grammar use it, but how would you feel when you hear something like that on a reputed news channel? I’m talking about the great BBC – and I gaped!

So, how can something be completely unique? Does unique have its degrees? If something is unique, is it not one of its kind? Oxford Dictionary gives the definition of unique as ‘unlike anything else’. This means unique does not have degrees. As I say, ‘there is nothing that can be more, less, completely, sort of, particularly unique’. It is a standalone word just like dead. Imagine someone saying ‘Harry is completely dead’. Bizarre this is, isn’t it?

So, next time you hear someone saying very unique (or something similar), tell them it’s a misuse. You can tell them that ‘unique itself is unique’. It doesn’t need a modifier. And leave them to Google what you said, ‘unique is unique’. 🙂

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