From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From Latin ūnus (one) + -ary, on the pattern of binary, ternary, etc.



unary (not comparable)

  1. Consisting of or involving a single element or component.
    • 1995, Becky McLaughlin, “Perverse Pleasure and Fetishized Text: The Deathly Erotics of Carter’s ‘The Bloody Chamber’ ”, in Style, volume 29, number 3, →JSTOR, page 219:
      Her work is a renunciation of the old narrative, a throwing away of the cotton reel, an enunciation of the unary signifier, fort, that is meaningless in itself.
  2. (mathematics, programming, computer engineering) Of an operation, function, procedure, or logic gate, taking exactly one operand, argument, parameter, or input; having domain of dimension 1.
    Negation is a unary operation.
    • 1990, Dominic A. Clark, “Verbal uncertainty expressions: A critical review of two decades of research”, in Current Psychology, volume 9, number 3, →DOI, page 229:
      Zadeh’s claim is that if the meaning of an expression (X) can be modeling by a fuzzy membership function variable, then the meaning of an expression such as “very X” is simply a membership function over the same variable determined by applying a unary operator to the membership function for X.
    • 2011, Robert Green, Henry Ledgard, “Coding Guidelines: Finding the Art in the Science”, in Communications of the ACM[1], volume 54, number 12, →DOI:
      On the other hand, blank spaces should not be used for unary operators such as unary minus (−), address of (&), indirection (*), member access (.), increment (++), and decrement (−−).

Derived terms[edit]



unary (countable and uncountable, plural unaries)

  1. (mathematics) The unary, or bijective base-1, numeral system.
  2. (information theory) Unary coding, an entropy encoding for natural numbers.

Coordinate terms[edit]