I’ve heard a lot of comments about unique since I originally wrote this post, and most people think it should be used as I originally thought it should be used. So hopefully this post will clear things up and stop people getting annoyed about an “incorrect” usage that actually turns out to be allowable!
The word I’m talking about here is unique. Unique, according to the dictionary, means “being the only one of its kind” and “unlike anything else”. So if it’s the only one of its kind, something can’t be more unique than something else, can it? Or very unique. Or a bit more unique, or less unique. Can it? Many people feel this usage is creeping in and diluting the “original” meaning of the word.
However: It also means “special or unusual“! The Oxford Concise English Dictionary says that the less precise sense of “special or unusual” is a valid one and that means it CAN be modified! So, next time you see something described as being more unique than something else … save your irritation for some of the other Be Careful! words I write about!
Be careful! is a series of posts about words that are misused commonly – but really shouldn’t be. It’s not a new variant of meaning, it’s an error that gets duplicated as people see the word misused and copy it. Contact me via email or via my contact form.