September 19, 2013
nonpareil (noun)
\nahn-puh-REL\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : an individual of unequaled excellence : paragon2 a : a small flat disk of chocolate covered with white sugar pellets b : sugar in small pellets of various colors
How do you use it?
Josh is a nonpareil of musical excellence and was awarded the school's "Outstanding Musician" award.
Are you a word wiz?

The origins of "nonpareil" trace back ultimately to Latin, but English acquired it in the 1400s from another language. What language do you think that is?

If you chose A, that's excellent! The Latin word "par," meaning "equal," is the ancestor of "nonpareil." Medieval speakers of French took "par" and added the negative prefix "non-" to create "nompareil," an adjective meaning "unequaled." It was adopted into Middle English as "nounparalle," and eventually acquired the more modern spelling, which is closer to that of its French grandparent. In the late 1500s, English speakers began to use "nonpareil" as a noun to mean "a person of unequaled excellence," and also to refer to various kinds of sweets. In the United States, it is especially used for tiny balls of sugar, or for a chocolate covered in them.
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