nonpareil

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See also: non-pareil

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

An eastern rosella (Platycercus eximius) photographed in Kangaroo Flat, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia. It was formerly known as a nonpareil (noun sense 2.2).
Nonpareil (noun sense 2.3) is also the name given in the USA to the painted bunting (Passerina ciris), this one a male photographed in Merritt Island, Florida, USA.
An illustration of a nonpareil apple (noun sense 2.4).
The word “nonpareil” refers to both the small pellets of white or coloured sugar used as decoration on baked goods and candy (noun sense 3.2), and to the chocolate drop which is covered with these pellets (noun sense 3.3).
A jar of nonpareil capers (noun sense 3.4).
A sample of the Clarendon typeface. Type of the nonpareil size (noun sense 4) is shown in the first line.

From Late Middle English non-parail (unparalleled, nonpareil) [and other forms],[1] from Middle French nonpareille, nonpareil (unparalleled) (obsolete), from non- (prefix meaning ‘not’) + pareil (alike, like, same).[2] Pareil is derived from Old French pareil, from Vulgar Latin *pariclus (equal; like; of a number: even), a contraction of *pariculus, from Latin pār (equal; like; of a number: even; suitable) + -culus (a variant of -ulus (suffix forming diminutive nouns)).

Noun sense 4 (size of type standardized at 6-point) is usually taken to derive from the attractive type cut by the brothers Giovanni and Gregorio De Gregori (fl. 1482–1503 and 1496–1527 respectively) for their 1498 edition of the divine offices in Venice; it was for a long time the smallest-sized type in use.

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

nonpareil (comparative more nonpareil, superlative most nonpareil)

  1. (frequently postpositive) Unequalled, unrivalled; unique. [from 15th c.]
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:unique
    Antonyms: see Thesaurus:common
    • 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 []

Alternative forms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

nonpareil (countable and uncountable, plural nonpareils)

  1. (countable) A person or thing that has no equal; a paragon. [from 16th c.]
    • c.1599-1601, William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night; or, What You Will,
      My lord and master loves you. O, such love / Could be but recompens'd though you were crown'd / The nonpareil of beauty!
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970, partition III, section 2, member 2, subsection ii:
      King John of France, once prisoner in England, came [] to see the Countess of Salisbury, the nonpareil of those times, and his dear mistress.
    • 1901 - Edmund Selous, Bird Watching, p. 240
      (a wren) crept or crawled, just like a true tree-creeper. I was, as I say, quite close, and watched it most attentively. It certainly—as far as good looking can settle it—did not assist itself with the wings. They remained close against the sides, or, if they moved at all, it was imperceptible to my eyes (which, by the way, are non-pareils).
  2. (countable, biology)
    1. The blue underwing or Clifden nonpareil (Catocala fraxini), a species of moth distributed across the Palearctic; also (obsolete) any of a number of moths of other species.
    2. (chiefly Australia, archaic) In full nonpareil parrot: the eastern rosella (Platycercus eximius), a species of rosella (parrot) native to southeastern Australia.
    3. (chiefly US) The painted bunting (Passerina ciris), a brightly-coloured finch native to North America.
    4. (archaic) In full nonpareil apple: a variety of apple tasting both sweet and tart which ripens very late in the season; also, the tree producing this fruit.
  3. (countable, chiefly US, cooking)
    1. (archaic) Any of various types of small sweets.
    2. (by extension, dated) A small pellet of white or coloured sugar used as decoration on baked goods and candy.
      Synonyms: hundreds and thousands (Australia, Britain, plural only), sprinkles (US)
    3. (by extension) A small, flat chocolate drop covered with such pellets of sugar, similar to a comfit.
    4. (by extension) A caper (pickled edible flower bud) of the smallest size.
  4. (uncountable, typography, chiefly historical) The size of type between ruby and emerald (or, in the United States, between agate and minion), standardized as 6-point; (countable) a slug of this size.
    Synonym: nonpareille (in European contexts)
    • 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.

Alternative forms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ nōn-parail, adj.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ nonpareil, adj. and n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2003; “nonpareil, adj. and n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.

Further reading[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


Middle French[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Adjective[edit]

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

  1. unparallelled; unprecedented

Romanian[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From French nonpareille.

Noun[edit]

nonpareil n (uncountable)

  1. nonpareil

Declension[edit]