"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Monday, 7 December 2009

A very Unique word - Ugh.

Some adjectives can be qualified; attractive, for example. A work of art may be fairly attractive or very attractive. There are however some adjectives that cannot be qualified like true or unique. Something is either true or it isn't

Unique means radically distinctive and without equal; singular; the single one of its kind; an item of which only one specimen is known to exist; something of which no two are exactly the same.

I therefore get really worked up when I hear television presenters describe something as very unique or fairly unique. It isn't! It is either unique or it isn't.


  1. Although I agree with you that 'unique' is an adjective that cannot be modified, I would disagree with you about 'true'. I think a statement can be, for example, 'somewhat true' or 'partially true.' To take an extremely simple example, little Johnny is in school learning addition. He says '1 plus 1 is 2 and 2 plus 2 is 5.' I would say that is a partially true statement. Is this a difference between British and American English?

  2. Right on, brutha! Hello, the meaning of the word, right?

  3. Perhaps its an American / British thing or perhaps it's just me but I would argue becuase Johnny's statement has incorrect parts it is untrue. However, part of the statement is true (as opposed to the statement being partially true).
    It's the concept of something being 'very true' that would upset me most!

    Don't you just love grammar - one can debate it for hours.