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Dictionary Definition: “One” June 22, 2008

Posted by Onely in Uncategorized.
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Food for thought…
Out of curiosity, I went to the ever-neutral (and online!) Oxford English Dictionary to see how “one” is defined, officially (I’ve skipped some of the more mundane ones). Enjoy! — L

Let’s begin with definitions that highlight singularity emphasized by the LACK of others:

    As simple numeral, expressing the number of a single thing without any more.

    Designating a person who or thing which consists of a single individual or unit, without the addition of another of the same kind; single and integral in number.

 … 

    Designating exactly one, as opposed to two or more; a single ___. Freq. in negative contexts. Also preceded by a determiner such as any, no, some, the, this.
  never one: see NEVER adv.

    With emphasis intensified by but, only, single, sole, alone.

…      

    {dag}Alone, on one’s own.
  In later use intensified by all (cf. ALL adj. 9), and subsequently forming a compound with it (see ALONE adj. and adv.).

…    

    After to leave, to let: cf. let alone vb. at LET v.1 18. Obs.

…    

    Designating one (of something) as opposed to none at all; at least one ___. Also with ellipsis of noun: one at any rate, one at least.

Now we’ll move on to the heteronormative ideal – to become “one” with another:

    Predicatively. Also: spec. united in marriage.

    The same or identical in relation to two or more things or persons; the same or identical in being or substance, consubstantial; the very same. one with ___: forming part of a whole with ___.

    The same or identical in kind, quality, or nature; homogeneous; equivalent. Freq. preceded by all: cf. ALL adj. 5.

    United in mind, feeling, intention, or attitude; of the same mind, in agreement. Also: in unison, harmonious.

    Continuously or uniformly the same; the same in all parts, at all times, or in all circumstances; unchanging, changeless. Chiefly predicatively in later use. Now arch. and rare.

    to one (against): an expression of the odds in favour of (or against) something happening.
  a million to one: see MILLION adj. and n. Phrases 1.
  Quot. 1583 refers to the proportion of those who ‘forsake the Lorde’ compared with those who do not.

    U.S. colloq. Modifying a noun (in emphatic use, chiefly in a negative clause): a single; even one; the first.

And then we’ll use “one” to point out differences (it’s the American way):

    one of us: a member of our group, our kind of person; spec. {dag}(a) a prostitute (obs.); (b) a homosexual.

    derogatory. one of those: a homosexual. Now rare.

And these are my favorite:

    one for ___: a person who likes, practises, or supports (something), esp. to an outstanding degree; a devotee, champion, or admirer of (something).

    one to (do something): the sort of person who would (do a particular thing); usually in negative contexts.

    a one: a person who is remarkable, outrageous, impudent, or otherwise distinctive; esp. in you are a one.

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