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From Middle French nonpareil (unparalleled) (obsolete in French), from non- + pareil.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /nɒnpəˈɹeɪl/, /ˈnɒnp(ə)ɹəl/
  • (US) IPA(key): /nɑnpəˈɹɛl/


nonpareil (comparative more nonpareil, superlative most nonpareil)

  1. Unequalled, unrivalled; unique. [from 15th c.]
    • 1996, David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest, Abacus 2013, p. 33:
      A veritable artist, possessed of a deftness nonpareil with cotton swab and evacuation-hypo, the medical attaché is known among the shrinking upper classes of petro-Arab nations as the DeBakey of maxillofacial yeast […].


nonpareil (plural nonpareils)

  1. A person or thing that has no equal; a paragon. [from 16th c.]
  2. A small pellet of colored sugar used as decoration on baked goods and candy.
  3. A small, flat chocolate drop covered with white pellets of sugar, similar to a comfit.
  4. (obsolete, printing) A type size between minion and agate or ruby (roughly 6pt); nonpareille.
    • 1881 May 19, Hermann Cohn, Eyes and School-Books, in Popular Science Monthly,
      I believe that letters which are less than a millimetre and a half (1/17 inch) high, will finally prove injurious to the eye. How little attention has hitherto been paid to this important subject is exemplified in the fact that even oculistic journals and books frequently contain nonpareil, or letters only a millimetre (1/25 inch) high.

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Middle French[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


nonpareil m (feminine singular nonpareille, masculine plural nonpareils, feminine plural nonpareilles)

  1. unparallelled; unprecedented