Submitted by steve on September 27, 2005

most unique

Is it correct to describe something as “most unique”? It seems to me that “most” is redunant though it does add emphasis akin to expressions such as “very pregnant” and “very dead”.

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It is not correct to use terms such as "most unique" or "very unique". Unique MEANS one-of-a-kind, not merely rare or unusual. People who misuse this term are also fond of employing 'impact' as a verb.

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Chris

Item A is much farther from the norm than item B? Can you give me an example? I don't understand what that means.

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OK, James, how about this?
"I did an experiment exposing ten fruit flies to high levels of radiation. The offspring of one was unique in that its eyes were an unusual shade of pink. The offspring of another was most unique in that it grew to a weight of 300 pounds and ate two of my lab assistants."
You may or may not find it grammatical, but I think it illustrates Chris's point.

Also, see dictionary.com:

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=unique

The usage note at the bottom discusses this issue quite well.

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Consider two unique things; item A and item B. Item A is much farther from the norm than item B. In my opinion, you could then say that A is more unique than B.

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It is indeed correct to use 'most unique'. A quick look in any good dictionary will show you that 'unique' has more than one meaning, as Steve has accurately discerned.

The misuse comes from people like Frederick who repeat these sorry fables.

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