Are you unique? That’s good. Are you very unique? That’s not so good.

No, I’m not suggesting that individuality is a bad thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing. A very powerful thing. And the word “unique” should be a very powerful word. Unfortunately, it’s misused so often that it is losing its power. Maybe even its uniqueness.

Simply put, “unique” means “singular” or “one of a kind.” Only one. No others. No comparison. That’s why you should never attach a modifier to it. You can’t have something that’s “very unique” or “one of the most unique.” Either it’s unique or it isn’t. Period.

Why do we see so many ads and other professional communications that modify that powerful word? I blame a lack of confidence. If we (or the attorneys who are reviewing said materials) aren’t completely sure that what we’re writing about is unique, we soften it by adding a modifier. Don’t do it. If you can’t be absolutely confident that what you’re describing is unique, choose another word.