from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of or relating to a linguistic form or construction that expresses a singular entity, often as opposed to a collective, such as rice-grain as opposed to rice.
  • n. A singulative form or construction.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of or pertaining to a grammatical form or construction that expresses the individuation of a single referent from a mass noun.
  • n. A singulative form or construction.


French singulatif, from Latin singillātim, singulātim, one at a time, singly, from singulus, single; see single.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French singulatif, from Latin singillatim ("singly", "one by one"), from singulus ("single", "separate"), from simplex ("simple", "single"), from Proto-Indo-European *sem- (“one, together”). (Wiktionary)


Sorry, no example sentences found.


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • This reminds me of Russian, where vegetables are often identified as grammatically singular mass nouns: морковь / morkov' means "carrots", while морковка / morkovka means "a carrot"; горох / gorokh "peas", but горошинка / goroshinka "a pea". In both these (and, I think, other) cases, the singulative is formed with a diminutive suffix.

    June 18, 2009

  • this does look simply like a bastardisation of suffixes, at first glance. thank you! i'm glad you're furthering my education. no sarcasm intended.

    June 18, 2009

  • I virtually never click on those little icons that go to what are claimed to be dictionaries; but I did for this and was disappointed in the results (predictably). The examples cited were from English, which has no true singulatives: snowflake and rice-grain are more just translations of the kind of thing that a singulative would be.

    They occur commonly in Welsh and Arabic, where the mass form is morphologically simpler than the singulative, e.g. Welsh adar "birds", aderyn "bird", or Arabic ward "flowers", wardah "flower".

    June 18, 2009