From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Singularity



From Middle English singularite, from Old French singularité, from Late Latin singulāritās (singleness), from Latin singulāris (single).

Morphologically singular +‎ -ity


  • IPA(key): /ˌsɪŋɡjəˈlæɹətɪ/
    • (file)


singularity (countable and uncountable, plural singularities)

  1. The state of being singular, distinct, peculiar, uncommon or unusual.
    • 1718, Joseph Addison, Remarks on several parts of Italy, &c. in the years 1701, 1702, 1703[1]:
      I took notice of this little figure for the singularity of the instrument.
    • a. 1618, Sir Walter Raleigh, The Marrow of Historie, Or, an Epitome of All Historical Passages from the Creation, to the End of the Last Macedonian War[2], published 1650:
      Pliny addeth this ſingularity to the Indian ſoil, that it is without weeds, that the second year the very falling down of the seeds yieldeth corn.
  2. An unusual action or behaviour.
    • 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter XI, in Francesca Carrara. [], volume II, London: Richard Bentley, [], (successor to Henry Colburn), →OCLC, page 115:
      "Do you know," said she to Guido one morning, when, after asking her to sing, the Englishman had left the room in the very middle of her song, "that I have taken a fancy into my head, which quite accounts for Mr. Arden's singularities: it is, that I am like some one whom he loved and lost in early youth; and though the loss is dreadful, the love is yet pleasant to remember."
  3. A point where all parallel lines meet.
  4. A point where a measured variable reaches unmeasurable or infinite value.
  5. (mathematics) The value or range of values of a function for which a derivative does not exist.
  6. (physics) Ellipsis of gravitational singularity: a point or region in spacetime in which gravitational forces cause matter to have an infinite density; associated with black holes.
    Synonym: spacetime singularity
    • 1988, Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, Bantam, →ISBN, page 88:
      At this singularity the laws of science and our ability to predict the future would break down. However, any observer who remained outside the black hole would not be affected by this failure of predictability, because neither light nor any other signal could reach him from the singularity.
    • 1992, Jean-Pierre Luminet, Black Holes, Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 135:
      Consequently the interior of a black hole is empty, with a singularity at the centre.
  7. (sometimes capitalized) Ellipsis of technological singularity: a hypothetical turning point in the future, the culmination ever accelerating technological progress, when human history as we have known it ends, and a strange new era begins. For some writers, the catalyst is superhuman machine intelligence.
    Synonyms: technological singularity, Kurzweil singularity, Singularity
    • 1958, Stan Ulam, “Tribute to John von Neumann”, in Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society:
      One conversation centered on the ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue.
    • 1993, Vernor Vinge, “The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era”, in Whole Earth Review:
      Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended. ... I think it's fair to call this event a singularity ("the Singularity" for the purposes of this paper).
    • [2011 January 5, Rob Walker, “Cyberspace When You're Dead”, in The New York Times[3], →ISSN:
      [Vernor] Vinge was among those (along with, notably, Ray Kurzweil) to discuss the transformation of humans by technology, coming in a matter of decades, referred to as "the singularity."]
    • 2016 April 7, John Markoff, “When Is the Singularity? Probably Not in Your Lifetime”, in The New York Times[4], →ISSN:
      The notion of the Singularity is predicated on Moore's Law, the 1965 observation by the Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, that the number of transistors that can be etched onto a sliver of silicon doubles at roughly two year intervals.
  8. (obsolete) Anything singular, rare, or curious.
    • c. 1610–1611 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Winters Tale”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene iii], page 302:
      Your Gallerie / Haue we paſs'd through, not without much content / In many ſingularities;
    • 1938, Norman Lindsay, Age of Consent, 1st Australian edition, Sydney, N.S.W.: Ure Smith, published 1962, →OCLC, page 89:
      He was badgered in that witness-box for an hour. By a distracting repetition of cross-examination he was forced to confess that he had seen and spoken to a human biped in broad daylight, yet could not recollect one singularity to distinguish this phantom from the flat mass of humanity.
  9. (obsolete) Possession of a particular or exclusive privilege, prerogative, or distinction.
    • 1594, Richard Hooker, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie[5], book 2:
      St. Gregory, being himself a Bishop of Rome, and writing against the title of Universal Bishop, saith thus, "None of all my predecessors ever consented to use this ungodly title; no bishop of Rome ever took upon him this name of singularity."
    • 1659, Bishop John Pearson, An Exposition of the Creed[6]:
      Catholicism [] must be understood in opposition to the legal singularity of the Jewish nation.
  10. Celibacy, singleness (as contrasted with marriage).
    • 1655, Jeremy Taylor, Eniautos: A Covrse of Sermons for All the Sundays of the Year, page 223:
      Marriage is the mother of the world, and preserves Kingdomes, and fils Cities, and Churches, and Heaven itself: Celibate, like the flie in the heart of an apple, dwels in a perpetuall sweetnesse, but sits alone, and is confin'd, and dies in singularity; but marriage, like the useful bee, builds a house and gathers sweetnesse from every flower, and labours and unites into Societies and Republicks, and sends out colonies, and feeds the world with delicacies, and obeys its king, and keeps order, and exercises many vertues, and promotes the interest of mankind, and is that state of good things to which God hath designed the present constitution of the world.
    • 1995, Joseph Monti, Arguing About Sex: The Rhetoric of Christian Sexual Morality, page 234:
      Gradually the implication of biblical monotheism created an entailment of singularity and monogamy in sexual relations.
    • 1998, Judith A. Merkle, A Different Touch: A Study of Vows in Religious Life, Liturgical Press, →ISBN, page 248:
      Chapter Twenty - Two Faces of Sexual Integration
      Comparisons between marriage and celibacy are dubious. [] In this sense, marriage is the institution of sexual partnering whereas celibacy is an institution of sexual singularity.
    • 2015, Susan J. Pollard, Celibacy and Soul: Exploring the Depths of Chastity, Fisher King Press, →ISBN, page 59:
      David emphasized that being singular in his relationship with God relies on real ties to the community, real friendships and a real work that sustains him. As I write, I am conscious of a singularity that I live and that is supported by close friends, family, clients and religious community. Genuine relationships are crucial and provide a supportive structure of interdependence.


The terms below need to be checked and allocated to the definitions (senses) of the headword above. Each term should appear in the sense for which it is appropriate. For synonyms and antonyms you may use the templates {{syn|en|...}} or {{ant|en|...}}.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]