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one (adj., prep., n.)

"being but a single unit or individual; being a single person, thing, etc. of the class mentioned;" as a pronoun, "a single person or thing, an individual, somebody;" as a noun, "the first or lowest of the cardinal numerals; single in kind, the same; the first whole number, consisting of a single unit; unity; the symbol representing one or unity;" c. 1200, from Old English an (adjective, pronoun, noun) "one," from Proto-Germanic *ainaz (source also of Old Norse einn, Danish een, Old Frisian an, Dutch een, German ein, Gothic ains), from PIE root *oi-no- "one, unique."

Originally pronounced as it still is in only, atone, alone, and in dialectal good 'un, young 'un, etc.; the now-standard pronunciation "wun" began c. 14c. in southwest and west England (Tyndale, a Gloucester man, spells it won in his Bible translation), and it began to be general 18c. Its use as indefinite pronoun was influenced by unrelated French on and Latin homo.

Before the name of a person, indicating "hitherto unknown" or not known to the speaker. One and only "sweetheart" is from 1906. One of those things "unpredictable occurrence" is from 1934. Slang one-arm bandit "a type of slot machine" is recorded by 1938. One-night stand is 1880 in performance sense; 1963 in sexual sense. One of the boys "ordinary amiable fellow" is from 1893. One-track mind is from 1927. Drinking expression one for the road is from 1950 (as a song title).

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