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un- +‎ original


unoriginal (comparative more unoriginal, superlative most unoriginal)

  1. Lacking originality.
    • 1758, William Hawkins, Tracts in Divinity, Oxford, Volume 2, Letter 12 [on Pope’ translations of Homer], pp. 418-419,[1]
      Redundancies are as unoriginal as Insipidities, and the Spirit of an Author may be as much overwhelmed in Exuberance on the one Hand, as it evaporates in Frigidity on the other.
    • 1859, John Stuart Mill, “Of the Limits to the Authority of Society over the Individual”, in On Liberty, London: John W[illiam] Parker and Son, [], →OCLC, page 117:
      Originality is the one thing which unoriginal minds cannot feel the use of. They cannot see what it is to do for them: how should they?
    • 1902, William Somerset Maugham, Mrs Craddock:
      [] Everything in its proper time and season,” he added, with the unoriginal man’s fondness for proverbial philosophy.
    • 2008, André Brink, Other Lives, Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks, “Mirror,” Chapter 8, p. 185,
      “Stories come from other stories.”
      “Then there is no originality anywhere.”
      “Does it matter? Perhaps our very idea of originality is overrated. And unoriginal.”
    • 2023 February 9, Ted Chiang, “ChatGPT Is a Blurry JPEG of the Web”, in The New Yorker[2]:
      If you’re a writer, you will write a lot of unoriginal work before you write something original.
  2. (rare) Not being the first or earliest version of something, not original.
    • 1894, Joseph Jacobs (editor), More Celtic Fairy Tales, London: David Nutt, Notes and References, “The Leeching of Kayn’s Leg,” p. 232,[3]
      [This tale] occurs in an MS. of the fifteenth century in an obviously unoriginal form which shows that the story-teller did not appreciate the significance of many features in the folk-tale he was retelling []
  3. (obsolete) Without an origin or source.


Derived terms[edit]


unoriginal (plural unoriginals)

  1. A person or work that does not exhibit originality.
    • 1975, The Educational Trends, volumes 10-14, page 59:
      Ahmad (1969) studied the personality differences among middle school girls identified as originals and unoriginals on the Minnesota's test of creative thinking.
    • 2010, A. Kusuma, Creativity and Cognitive Styles in Children, page 73:
      The originals or the creatives were more dominant than the unoriginals or the low creatives.