single (adj.)

early 14c., "unmarried," from Old French sengle, sangle "alone, unaccompanied; simple, unadorned," from Latin singulus "one, one to each, individual, separate" (usually in plural singuli "one by one"), from PIE *semgolo‑, suffixed (diminutive?) form of root *sem- (1) "one; as one, together with."

The meaning "consisting of one unit, individual, unaccompanied by others" is from late 14c., often merely emphatic. The meaning "undivided" is from 1580s. Single-parent (adj.) is attested from 1966.

single (n.)

c. 1400, "unmarried person," mid-15c., "a person alone, an individual," from single (adj.). Of single things from 1640s. From the broad sense of "that which is single" it was given various technical meanings from 16c.

The sports senses are attested from 1851 (cricket, "hit for which one run is scored") and 1858 (baseball, "one-base hit"). The meaning "one-dollar bill" is by 1936. The meaning "phonograph record with one song on each side" is from 1949. The sense of "unmarried swinger" is from 1964; singles bar, catering to the young and unmarried, is attested from 1969. An earlier modern word for "unmarried or unattached person" is singleton (1937).

single (v.)

"to separate from the herd" (originally in hunting, often with forth or out), "select individually from among a number," 1570s, from single (adj.). The baseball sense of "make a one-base hit" is from 1899 (from the noun meaning "one-base hit," which is attested from 1858). Related: Singled; singling.

updated on November 05, 2022