Meaning of singular in English:


Pronunciation /ˈsɪŋɡjʊlə/

See synonyms for singular

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  • 1Grammar
    (of a word or form) denoting or referring to just one person or thing.

    ‘the third person singular form of the verb’
    • ‘In American English, collective nouns usually take a singular verb.’
    • ‘There are other singular words for classes or units of people.’
    • ‘‘Please inform the writers that the names of teams take the singular verb,’ he says.’
    • ‘And the singular subject ‘vehicle’ should be followed by the singular verb ‘is’.’
    • ‘Plural pronouns with nominally singular antecedents like ‘everyone’ have been a major battlefield in the grammar wars.’
    1. 1.1Single; unique.
      ‘she always thought of herself as singular, as his only daughter’
      • ‘And because of this singular fact, every single published estimate of Social Security income and outgo is just plain wrong.’
      • ‘Out of this dichotomous set of associations has emerged a constellation of forces, ideas, images and experiences which have defined both the city and rural zones in unique and singular ways.’
      • ‘History has treated the Crash as a freak and singular event, unique to itself and highly unlikely to be repeated.’
      • ‘The society was so singular, so unique, so finely skewed between wilderness and civilisation.’
      • ‘We didn't come within a country mile, partly because I couldn't play, & partly because this thing's too singular and unique.’
      • ‘In the pantheon of U2 acolytes, McCormick occupies a singular position, uniquely privileged, tormented and compromised.’
      • ‘What strikes the human eye is the uniquely singular soaring roof, shaped like a slanted disc, which also appears to be in the form of the rising sun.’
      • ‘With the singular exception of Chennai, cricket crowds all over India have forgotten how to applaud good cricket played by the other side.’
      • ‘What makes a person or relationship or an event or a language exceptional, singular, or distinctive?’
      • ‘With the singular exception of a few highly specialized late medieval tournament saddles - none rise above the rider's waistline.’
      • ‘That example is somewhat exceptional, but not singular.’
      • ‘On this singular distinction, progressive vets have proudly dined out for years.’
      • ‘Discarding the traditional method of drawing portraits, Mr. Eby has developed an exceptionally singular style of directly employing colour with the brush on the canvas.’
      • ‘This iconic trinity is a remarkably singular instance of women as seen and interpreted by women.’
      • ‘Inadvertently, the rest of the society is homogenised and the spokesperson emerges as singular and exceptional.’
      • ‘This paradoxical turnabout is not a singular phenomenon.’
      • ‘It becomes difficult in that the singular vision is important to a particular film.’
      • ‘It features some of his fashion images, celebrity portraits and an epic photo essay he shot in Las Vegas, all of them striking for the clarity and concentration of his singular vision.’
      • ‘This treatment is rare, perhaps singular among Philadelphia case pieces of this time.’
  • 2Exceptionally good or great; remarkable.

    ‘he had the singular good fortune not to die in the trenches’
    • ‘They had a singular beauty, outstanding amongst the exotic growth of fern and ponga on the slopes below.’
    • ‘No one else does with available light what Godard does, which brings about a singular beauty.’
    • ‘Christmas, of course, is a special case, and Dunkeld Cathedral is a place of singular beauty, but the trend still needs some explanation.’
    • ‘We are constantly delighted and surprised with the singular beauty, humor, and depth of these cultural artifacts.’
    • ‘March Madness is a thing of singular beauty in the ugly, wretched cesspit that is college sports.’
    • ‘But persevere with Lear because, while he is no Turner, taken on his own terms he has much to offer in works of a singular beauty which contain the clues to personal tragedy.’
    • ‘His hands were of singular delicacy and beauty.’
    • ‘She grew up to be a lady of singular beauty and was much sought after.’
    • ‘The pain etched on the face of every single Lisbon Lion was proof, if any were needed, of the remarkable bonding achieved by this singular football team.’
    • ‘In spite of its arbitrariness, that hypothesis had a singular fortune, for it dominated Western thought in one form or another almost until the eighteenth century.’
    • ‘He was a singular man with an astonishing career, but at the same time, as the author notes, he was ‘an opportunist without a detailed blueprint’.’
    • ‘In the south, it took ten years before the new leader, Albert Reynolds, read the signals and acted with singular courage.’
    • ‘Every sip confirms that Bacardi Big Apple Rum is a singular taste sensation.’
    • ‘More than anything else, this set highlights how singular and amazing Wire were at their peak.’
    • ‘A better introduction to the label would be harder to imagine, as the singles capture the remarkable beauty of Cold Blue's singular sound.’
    • ‘Yasmine said that it was her singular good fortune to meet the ideal literary editor.’
    • ‘But perhaps even more astonishing is how this singular American victory has disappeared from public consciousness.’
    • ‘Packed in a special blue box, they are known for their singular and impressive taste experience that is the quintessence of coffee.’
    • ‘The Beatles were four distinct personalities joined as a singular force in the rebellious 1960s, influencing everything from hair styles to music.’
    • ‘This was as singular a manifestation of male charisma, intimidating and awesome, as I have ever seen.’
    remarkable, extraordinary, exceptional, outstanding, striking, signal, eminent, especial, particular, notable, noteworthy, conspicuous, distinctive, impressive
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    1. 2.1Strange or eccentric in some respect.
      ‘no explanation accompanied this rather singular statement’
      • ‘Barely are we into what is broadly described as ‘recovery’ than we see already a strange and singular characteristic.’
      • ‘He never strayed from the sinister, sensitive steps that marked his strange and singular songwriting path.’
      • ‘In one of the more bizarre twists in a truly singular career, August 1968 saw The Incredible String Band in upstate New York as part of the Woodstock festival.’
      • ‘Plans are conceived of as singular intentions, regarded as incongruous within a diverse society.’
      • ‘They are reputed persons of a singular, wayward, and eccentric character.’
      • ‘It's kind of like we've demonised injecting drug users to be very singular people.’
      • ‘His escape was all the more remarkable, given his singular appearance.’
      strange, unusual, odd, peculiar, funny, curious, extraordinary, bizarre, eccentric, weird, queer, outlandish, offbeat, unexpected, unfamiliar, abnormal, aberrant, atypical, unconventional, out of the ordinary, off-centre, incongruous, unnatural, anomalous, untypical, puzzling, mystifying, mysterious, perplexing, baffling, unaccountable
      View synonyms
  • 3Mathematics
    (of a square matrix) having a zero determinant.

    ‘The matrix was not singular, as the interaction observed variables were not linearly dependent on the original observed variables.’
    • ‘The programs will not analyze data where the matrix is singular as it is not positive definite.’
    • ‘Using the MCMC method in Loki, if the number of iterations is too small, then it is more likely that the estimates of the IBD matrices will be singular.’
    • ‘Asreml requires the inverse of the IBD matrix as input but this matrix can be singular.’
    • ‘Because the components must sum to unity, converting values to proportions produces a linear constraint, which causes the sample covariance matrix to be singular.’
  • 4Physics Mathematics
    Relating to or of the nature of singularity.

    • ‘Each spectrum was analyzed as a linear combination of basis fluorescence spectra using a singular value decomposition algorithm.’


  • 1Grammar
    A singular word or form.

    ‘This difference between the two constructions follows from the fact that bare plurals, but not indefinite singulars, are acceptable topics.’
    • ‘It will be noted that singulars far outnumber plurals, also that the cherished object is overwhelmingly associated with a speech act participant (mainly the addressee) rather than with a third party.’
    • ‘Keep up the good work, and watch out for collective singulars!’
    • ‘Again, from the viewpoint of referential disambiguity, singulars are more important than plurals.’
    • ‘He concludes that the first person singular may not be the appropriate voice after all.’
    1. 1.1the singularThe singular number.
      ‘a word in the singular’
      • ‘Feminine contrasts with both masculine and neuter, not only in the nominative and accusative singular, but in the genitive and dative singular as well.’
      • ‘You may have noticed I said rod in the singular in that last paragraph, with good reason.’
      • ‘This refers back to the dialectical relationship between movements in the plural and a movement in the singular.’
      • ‘Although we refer to ‘the sodium pump’ and others in the singular, a single cell may have for example, hundreds of thousands of sodium pumps, with the number varying to suit local conditions.’
      • ‘So far I have been speaking about the NRB report in the singular.’


Middle English (in the sense ‘solitary, single’, also ‘beyond the average’): from Old French singuler, from Latin singularis, from singulus (see single).