Lauren Krueger & Matthew David Brozik

Unique.

In Definally on June 24, 2011 at 10:00 am

No, Definally. is not going to reiterate what you’ve already heard and/or read elsewhere: that “unique,” like several other words, is an absolute adjective—one that does not permit of modification by an adverb. That is, something is either unique (or complete; equal; perfect; or pregnant….) or it is not. Thus, uniqueness can not be graded. But can it be otherwise modified?

Certainly, something can be suddenly unique. Imagine if there were only two of something… and then one was destroyed! The remaining item would be suddenly unique. Cool, right?

And something might be… undeniably unique. Like, if the uniqueness of an item were called into question… but then proven scientifically, beyond doubt. (It would also be indubitably unique, in that case. Even scientifically indubitably unique.)

But can something be uniquely unique? That is, can something that is unique be unique in a unique way?

Unique means singular. Unique describes something that is unlike anything else, and like which there is nothing. Are there different ways to be unique, then? No. There are not.

There is only one way to be unique. A thing that is unique is (again, by definition) unlike anything else… but that defining characteristic is going to be shared by all unique things. (And yet the uniqueness of each is not defeated by this common characteristic. Consider humans: Each of us is unique… just like every other human. Right? Go figure.) So something can not, in fact, be uniquely unique.

Carry on.

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