Nov 15, 2012

Unique: The Most Misused Word in the English Language?

Unique. It's just a word. One word. But it's a word that really gets my back up. Companies up and down the land use it like it's going out of fashion, and yet it's incredibly rare to see 'unique' used correctly and in context.

Personalised gift companies love using the word 'unique'. 'Unique gifts' and 'unique presents' are everywhere. But I can just about take it. Just. I base this on the fact that because you can personalise a gift, it could technically be a unique gift. After all, if London mayor, Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, had a present personalised for him, there's very little chance that the exact same item exists with his exact same name on it. And in fairness to these companies, they also mix up the term 'unique presents' with 'unusual gifts' - presumably for both variety and accuracy.

But by far and away the worst culprits are holiday companies and tour operators, who frequently find themselves in my imaginary dock for constant misuse of the word 'unique'. I find myself charging them in my linguistic court of law with being thick in the ways of the English language. If I'm sat in a hotel's restaurant, for example, I doubt very much that I'm soaking up its "... unique atmosphere." Now it may be that it has a lovely vibe, but unless the writer has sampled every other restaurant in every other hotel in the world, they can't lay claim to this 'unique' feel.

Likewise, if I'm in my large and luxurious bedroom, it still remains incredibly doubtful that I'm enjoying "... a unique sense of space." Sure, there's probably every chance I can frolic around its 55m2 wearing nothing but my socks, but am I really enjoying something unique? Certainly not.

So let's get this straight, once and for all. If something is unique, it's a one off. It's one of a kind. Original. The first and last. The only. Unrepeated. Mimicked perhaps, but never matched. The Great Wall of China is unique and I don't mind seeing it described as such. Ditto St Paul's Cathedral or the elephant man. Unique doesn't mean quirky, unusual or pleasant. It doesn't mean weird and wonderful. In fact, the only thing that makes the misuse worse is when someone describes something as 'pretty unique', 'fairly unique' or 'quite unique'. It's either unique or it's not. There's no in between. We clear?

So on this basis, let's use the word 'unique' correctly. After all, I'm happy to embrace it if it's apt. I won't grumble or chunter if I read it in the same sentence as Machu Picchu or the Northern Lights. But I will get stroppy if I read about a unique opportunity to own a limited edition minted coin commemorating the royal wedding, especially when half of them turn up on eBay.

Rant over.

The guys and girls at GoneDigging specialise in personalised gifts, some of which - depending on the rarity of your name - might even be unique gifts. They'll certainly be unusual if nothing else. To have a good look round, simply get yourself online, where you'll find no end of ideas.

This post was made using the Auto Blogging Software from This line will not appear when posts are made after activating the software to full version.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Support : Website | valawax | ka-sale
Copyright © 2011. Strange New in The World - All Rights Reserved
Template Created by anakmuDa Published by MybloG
Proudly powered by Blogger