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distinctive, unique


inimitable = einzigartig, unnachahmlich, unnachahmbar —— in his own inimitable way = in seiner unnachahmlichen Art



“ ‘Muhammad Ali’ a new four-part series broadcast on PBS … is a subtle, devastating portrait of an American hero—and of the ultimate athlete-activist. … Ali’s talent, sacrifice, grit and impact set an INIMITABLE gold standard.”

The Economist - 17 September 2021

Did you


- very unusual or of very high quality and therefore impossible to copy

Cambridge Dictionary


Inimitable derives from Middle English and from the Latin inimitabilis.

Something that is inimitable is, literally, not able to be imitated. In actual usage the word describes things so uniquely extraordinary as to not be copied or equaled, which is why you often hear it used to praise outstanding talents or performances.

The antonym “imitable” describes things that are common or ordinary and could easily be replicated or surpassed.

Be careful not to confuse "inimitable" with “inimical” or “inimicable”, two adjectives meaning hostile or harmful; those words derive from the same Latin root inimicus that gave us “enemy”.

SYNONYMS for beyond imitation and without equal, especially in standard or quality

a cut above the rest, Arcadian, archetypal, astonishing, awe-inspiring, awesomesauce, beyond comparison/price, blue-ribbon, breathtaking, crackerjack, dazzling, flawless, gilt-edged, glorious, godlike, highest ranking, illustrious, immaculate, in a class (all) by itself, in a league of its own, incomparable, INIMITABLE, inspirational, irreproachable, majestic, matchless, most excellent, most outstanding, most prominent, mother-of-all, nonpareil, numero uno, of incalculable/immeasurable/inestimable value/worth, of the first order/water, of the highest order, once-in-a-lifetime, one-in-a-million, one-of-a-kind, out of sight, paradisal, peerless, prototypical, quintessential, sans pareil, second-to-none, sensational, singular, solid-gold, supereminent, the one-and-only, tip-top, to-die-for, top-hole, top-of-the-line/range, top-shelf, topnotch, unequalled, unmatched, unparagoned, unsurpassable, unrivalled, untouchable, virtuosic, without equal/match/precedent

BOOK TITLES provide excellent context for understanding new words:

- The Subtleties of the INIMITABLE Mulla Nasrudin (Idries Shah)

- The INIMITABLE Jeeves (P. G. Wodehouse)

- Harriet: a story of love, heartbreak and humour set in the Yorkshire country from the INIMITABLE multimillion-copy bestselling Jilly Cooper (Jilly Cooper)

- Excess: The Art of Michael Golden: Comics INIMITABLE Storyteller and How He Does It (Michael Golden & Renee Witterstaetter)

SMUGGLE OWAD into today’s conversation, say something like:

“Louis Armstrong had an INIMITABLE, gravelly voice.”

Or, when you next introduce a very special person to an audience:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, comrades, friends, fellow travelers,… let me now introduce you to the INIMITABLE… (FIRST NAME, LAST NAME).”

HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:


Paul Smith, IBAN: DE75 7316 0000 0002 5477 40

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