From Late Middle English non-parail (“unparalleled, nonpareil”) [and other forms], from Middle French nonpareille, nonpareil (“unparalleled”) (obsolete), from non- (prefix meaning ‘not’) + pareil (“alike, like, same”). Pareil is derived from Old French pareil, from Late Latin pāriculus (“equal; like; of a number: even”), from Latin pār (“equal; like; of a number: even; suitable”) + -culus (a variant of -ulus (suffix forming diminutives)).
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.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /nɒnpəˈɹeɪ(l)/, /nɒm-/, /ˈnɒnpəɹ(ə)l/, /ˈnɒnpɹ(ə)l/, /ˈnɒm-/
Audio (RP) (file)
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˌnɑnpəˈɹɛl/
- Rhymes: -eɪ, -eɪl, -ɛl
- Hyphenation: non‧par‧eil
- (frequently postpositive) Unequalled, unrivalled; unique. [from 15th c.]
- 1919, O. Henry, “Transients in Arcadia”, in The Voice of the City:
- He informed the clerk that he would remain three or four days, inquired concerning the sailing of European steamships, and sank into the blissful inanition of the nonpareil hotel with the contented air of a traveller in his favorite inn.
- 1996, David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest […], Boston, Mass., New York, N.Y.: Little, Brown and Company, →ISBN, page 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 […]
- (countable) A person or thing that has no equal; a paragon. [from 16th c.]
- c. 1601–1602 (date written), William Shakespeare, “Twelfe Night, or What You Will”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, (please specify the act number in uppercase Roman numerals, and the scene number in lowercase Roman numerals):
- 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, 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).
- (countable, biology)
- 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.
- (chiefly Australia, archaic) In full nonpareil parrot: the eastern rosella (Platycercus eximius), a species of rosella (parrot) native to southeastern Australia.
- (chiefly US) The painted bunting (Passerina ciris), a brightly-coloured finch native to North America.
- (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.
- (countable, chiefly US, cooking)
- (archaic) Any of various types of small sweets.
- (by extension, dated) A small pellet of white or coloured sugar used as decoration on baked goods and candy.
- (by extension) A small, flat chocolate drop covered with such pellets of sugar, similar to a comfit.
- (by extension) A caper (“pickled edible flower bud”) of the smallest size.
- (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: (in European contexts) 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.
- nonpareils on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
- nonpareil (apple) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
- nonpareil (typography) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
- nonpareil (disambiguation) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
- Catocala fraxini on Wikispecies.Wikispecies
- Passerina ciris on Wikispecies.Wikispecies
- Platycercus eximius on Wikispecies.Wikispecies
- “nonpareil”, in Trésor de la langue française informatisé [Digitized Treasury of the French Language], 2012.
nonpareil n (uncountable)