February 18, 2007

sui generis

sui generis: adj. Latin, "of its own kind": constituting a class alone : UNIQUE, PECULIAR
• "possesses certain sui generis qualities" -- John Mason Brown
-- usually used predicatively or postpositively:
• "the man is sui generis" -- John McCarten (predicatively--predicate object linked by is to man, the subject).
• "a history book sui generis" -- Max Wolff (postpositively--comes after [post] the word it modies, i.e, book)
--Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. http://unabridged.
merriam-webster.com (18 Feb. 2007).

More examples of the word in use:

Meryl Streep was praised in this Wall Street Journal film review of The Devil Wears Prada: "Ms. Streep's pitch-perfect portrayal of Miranda is sui generis, with a dramatic existence of its own, as unique and memorable as, say, a Bette Davis character." (Hochswender, Woody, "Where Angels Fear to Tread", WSJ July 13, 2006, p. D10)

In July of 2006, NBC ran commercials praising John Madden as being sui generis and saying he cannot be confused with or compared to anyone else.

The Saturday, 16th September 2006 edition of the British newspaper The Guardian, contained a Comment article by Martin Kettle in which, speaking about hung parliaments, he said: "Each is sui generis, dependent on the particular parliamentary arithmetic, inter-party momentum and surrounding political circumstances."

December 23, 2006 Slate Magazine used the term in discussing the unique variations of French Rose Champagne "Grower Champagnes are wines made by small farmers in the Champagne region who, bucking convention, choose to craft their own wines rather than sell their grapes to the major Champagne houses. Typical of farmer fizzes, the grower rosés are utterly sui generis—in a few cases almost freakishly so."

The December 25, 2006 CNN Marquee Blog referred to James Brown stating "I can't even begin to talk about his importance. He was sui generis."
--Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Pagehttp://en.wikipedia.org

More on etymological & philosophical origins:
sui generis / SU'-we JAYN-er- is /
is a (post) Latin expression, literally meaning "of its own kind/genus or unique in its characteristics."

The expression was effectively created by scholastic philosophy to indicate an idea, an entity or a reality that cannot be included in a wider concept. In the structure "genus → species" a species that heads its own genus is sui generis.
-Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Pagehttp://en.wikipedia.org


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