Uniqueness modifiers

07Jul09

One of my pet peevs over the last few years when I was doing lots of product evaluations was the abuse of the word ‘unique’ by some of the sales droids I encountered. If you’re reading this now you know who you are, and well done for persevering with this blog, I know that I use some big words sometimes.

Unique is like the Highlander, there can be only one.

A product that is ‘very unique’ isn’t somehow better than being the only product of its type, which it would be if it was simply ‘unique’. In my view ‘very’ is a negative uniqueness modifier – like all the others.

‘Fairly unique’ isn’t good either. If a service is described as ‘fairly unique’ then that’s code for “we like to think that we’re differentiated, but in truth there are many like us”.

I notice that the US based Websters dictionary allows for degrees of uniqueness like ‘fairly’, which I take as an acceptance of common abuse rather than the correct English meaning of the word.



2 Responses to “Uniqueness modifiers”

  1. 1 Steve

    My personal favorite is relatively unique – as in our approach is relatively unique in the marketplace.

    And as far as the Highlander is concerned, why was the only person with a real Scottish accent cast as a Spanish prince? I sat one table away from Sean Connery last year at a bar in the Upper East Side watching the Six Nations Rugby. He (along with Sony’s Howard Stringer) does actually enjoy watching the game.

  2. 2 Hugh

    Can we decapitate any salesdroids who abuse the U word in future?
    Preferably with a Japanese katana…


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