Monday, February 23, 2009

Unique is . . . well, unique.

You've heard it before, I'm sure. If a thing is unique, then it is one of a kind. Thus, a thing cannot be more unique or less unique or almost unique. If a thing is unique, then it is unique. Period.

But how many times do you see something described as "very unique"? Often enough, perhaps, that you no longer flinch or even stop to think that you've run across an error.

The Chicago Manual of Style explains that "unique" is an uncomparable adjective that "describes an absolute state or condition," and the style manual lists other uncomparables as "entire," "impossible," and "pregnant."

So let us remember that just as one can't be almost pregnant, neither can one be almost unique. You either are, or you aren't.

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