1. Being the only one of its kind:
2. Without an equal or equivalent; unparalleled.
3. Characteristic of a particular category, condition, or locality:
a problem unique to coastal areas.
4. Informal Unusual; extraordinary:
spoke with a unique accent.
6. from Old French
7. from Latin ?nicus * see oi-no-
源自 拉丁语 ?nicus *参见 oi-no-
8. Over the course of the century unique has become the paradigmatic example of the class of terms that do not allow comparison or modification by an adverb of degree such as very, somewhat, or quite. Thus, most grammarians believe that it is incorrect to say that something is very unique or more unique than something else, though phrases such as nearly unique and almost unique are acceptable. In the most recent survey the sentence Her designs are quite unique in today's fashion scene was unacceptable to 80 percent of the Usage Panel. · Critical objections to the comparison and degree modification of absolute terms date to the 18th century and have been applied to a wide group of adjectives including equal, fatal, omnipotent, parallel, perfect, and unanimous. According to the standard argument, such words denote properties that a thing either does or does not have but cannot have to a qualifiable degree. Thus if unique is properly used to mean “without equal or equivalent,” something either is unique or it isn't, and phrases such as very unique and more unique can only betray a weakening of the sense to mean something like “unusual” or “distinctive.” It is true that comparison and modification of unique are often associated with the style favored by copywriters, as in the advertisement announcing that Omaha's most unique restaurant is now even more unique or in the claim that a new automobile is So unique, it's patented. But modification of unique is also found in the work of reputable writers, where it may lack any connotations of hyperbole. A painting is described as the most unique of Beckman's self-portraits, and a travel writer states that Chicago is no less unique an American city than New York or San Francisco. The relative acceptability of these usages reflects the semantic subtlety of unique itself. If we were to use unique only according to the strictest criteria of logic, after all, we might freely apply the term to anything in the world since nothing is wholly equivalent to anything else. Clearly, then, when we say that a restaurant or painting is unique, we mean that it is worthy of inclusion in a class by itself according to certain implicit but generally accepted criteria. Thus a legitimately unique painting might be one that realizes an unparalleled aesthetic vision, but not one that is rendered only in pigments whose names begin with the letter o; and a legitimately unique restaurant might be one that serves 18th-century French cuisine according to the original recipes, not one that has been installed in a converted sardine cannery. Given this understanding, it is not inherently impossible to think of uniqueness as a matter of degree, in the sense that one painting or restaurant may be more or less worthy of inclusion in a class by itself than some other. · What is troubling about the copywriters' use of unique is not that the word has become a synonym for unusual. Rather, it is the copywriters who are using the word in conformity with strict logic. Uniqueness is claimed for a restaurant in virtue of some trivial properties of its decor or menu, or for a resort hotel that simply happens to have a singularly picturesque view of the bay. Though it may be true that such properties render these things logically unique, they do not constitute legitimate grounds for putting the things into a class by themselves according to the criteria ordinarily invoked when things are sorted into classes. In fact, the abuse of unique can be cloying even when no modification or comparison is involved; when we read an advertisement for a line of sportswear that features a unique selection of colors, we may suspect that the distinctive properties of the color selection are not so remarkable as the advertiser would have us believe. But it is not surprising that these uses of unique should lend themselves to promiscuous modification and comparison; for once it is granted that uniqueness can be claimed for any product or service that is somehow distinctive from all its competitors, it is inevitable that an increase in uniqueness will be seen in every minor innovation.See Usage Note at equal, infinite, parallel, perfect
在本世纪整个过程中unique 已成为不能由程度副词，例 very、somewhat 或 quite， 比较或修饰的一类术语的例证。 因此，多数语法学家认为说某事是very unique 或 more unique than 是不正确的， 虽然短语例如nearly unique 和 almost unique 是可接受的。 在最近的调查中，句子Her designs are quite unique in today's fashion scene （她的设计在现今流行样式的场面中是很独特的） 对用法专题使用小组的百分之八十成员是不可接受的。 对纯粹术语的比较和程度修饰的主要异议可追述到18世纪，并已广泛用到许多形容词中，包括equal, fatal, omnipotent, parallel, perfect 和 unanimous。 根据标准论据，这些单词表示一事有或没有但不能有可修饰的程度的性质。于是如果unique 适当地用于表示“没有相等或相当的”，则某事是唯一的或不是唯一的， 而短语像very unique 和 more unique 仅能表露出说明某事像“不寻常的”或“独特的”的意义的减弱。 的确，unique 的比较和修饰常与撰稿人喜欢的文体相联系， 如在广告中称Omaha's most unique restaurant is now even more unique（奥马哈城的最独特的餐馆现在甚至是更加独特） 或声称新汽车是 So unique, it's patented（如此独特，它取得了专利权）。 但是unique 的修饰也在著名作家的作品中发现， 那里可能缺乏夸张法的任何涵义。描述一张油画为the most unique of Beckman's self-portraits（最独特的贝克曼的自画像）， 一位旅游作家叙述Chicago is no less unique an American city than New York or San Francisco（芝加哥比纽约或旧金山是不逊独特的美国城市）。 这些用法的相对可接受性反映unique 自身语义的巧妙。 如果我们仅按照逻辑的严格标准使用unique ， 则我们终于会自由地把此术语使用于世界上的任何事，因为没有完全等同于另一事的事。于是，显然当我们说餐馆或油画是独特的时，我们意味着根据某种隐含的但可普遍接受的判据它是值得包含在一个等级内的。于是合理独特的油画可能是实现空前未有的审美型的，而不是仅给予名字以字母O开始的颜料； 合理独特的餐馆可能根据原来的食谱提供18世纪法国菜肴的餐馆，而不是配备转换的沙丁鱼罐头食品的餐馆。按这样了解，将独特性视为程度问题不是本来就不可能的，在这个意义上一张油画或一个餐馆或多或少可能是极好的有价值的内涵物而不是其他。关于撰稿人使用unique 的困惑不是此单词已成为 unusual 的同义词。 相反地，正是撰稿人使用此单词与严密的逻辑相一致。对餐馆声称独特性是由于它的布置或菜单的某些不重要的性质，或者对于人们常去的旅馆仅因为有海湾的独一无二地别致的景象。虽然这样的性质使得这些事logically 独特的可能是真实的， 但是当事情进行了分类，根据平常实行的判据把这些事情自身放到一类，他们不组成正常的基础。事实上unique 的滥用会使人发腻，即使在没有涉及修饰或比较的时候； 当我们读运动服装的unique selection of colors（颜色的独特选择） 的一行广告时， 我们会怀疑颜色选择的独特性质并非广告商希望我们所认为的那么明显。但不必惊讶于unique 的这些用法应当适用于杂乱的修饰和比较； 就这一次可以承认，独特性能用来指任何产品或服务，它们与所有的竞争者相比较有某种程度的特色，在每一小的创新中可以看到独特性的增加是必然会发生的参见 equal， infinite， parallel， perfect