a. Of or relating to an individual, especially a single human: individual consciousness.
b. By or for one person: individual work; an individual portion.
- Existing as a distinct entity; separate: individual drops of rain.
a. Marked by or expressing individuality; distinctive or individualistic: an individual way of dressing.
b. Special; particular: Each variety of melon has its individual flavor and texture.
c. Serving to identify or set apart: “There was nothing individual about him except a deep scar … across his right cheek” (Rebecca West).
a. A single human considered apart from a society or community: the rights of the individual.
b. A human regarded as a unique personality: always treated her clients as individuals.
c. A person distinguished from others by a special quality.
d. Usage Problem A person.
- A single animal or plant as distinguished from a species, community, or group.
- A member of a collection or set; a specimen.
Origin: Middle English, single, indivisible
Origin: , from Old French
Origin: , from Medieval Latin indīviduālis
Origin: , from Latin indīviduus
Origin: : in-, not; see in-1
Origin: + dīviduus, divisible (from dīvidere, to divide)
Related Forms:Usage Note:
The noun individual
is normally used to refer to an individual person as opposed to a larger social group or as distinguished from others by some special quality: This is not only a crisis of individuals, but also of a society
(Raymond Williams). She is a real individual.
Since the 19th century, however, there have been numerous objections to the use of the word to refer simply to “person” where no larger contrast is implied, as in Two individuals were placed under arrest
or The Mayor will make time for any individual who wants to talk to her.
This use of individual
is common in official statements, as the examples imply, and lends a formal or even pretentious tone that may be undesirable. The words person
are acceptable, neutral options that are appropriate in almost any context.