Definition of single in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsɪŋɡ(ə)l/


1 [attributive] Only one; not one of several: a single red rose the kingdom was ruled over by a single family
More example sentences
  • That may be true but remember those in a single income family face the same financial pressures as those with a double income.
  • Boredom among children is common in those families with a single child.
  • Now I keep trying to remind myself that some people are supporting whole families on a single income.
one, one only, sole, lone, solitary, isolated, by itself;
unique, exclusive;
unaccompanied, by oneself, alone, solo;
1.1Regarded as distinct from each other or others in a group: she wrote down every single word alcohol is the single most important cause of violence
More example sentences
  • They were talking to each other, but the engines were too loud to distinguish a single word from here.
  • Bryan and Kim had been silent, not saying a single word to each other the whole way back to Kim's house.
  • A person can communicate in so many ways without uttering a single word and they are understood clearly.
individual, separate, distinct, particular
1.2 [with negative] Even one (used for emphasis): they didn’t receive a single reply
More example sentences
  • Yet when I tried to follow it up with a series of letters I never received a single reply.
  • Well, I never received a single reply from Nova, not even a form letter.
  • Sorry for those who fear censorship but there is not a single mention in the document of the right to reply to opinions.
1.3Designed or suitable for one person: a single bed
More example sentences
  • Tracey has had to move into her three-year-old daughter, Sophie's, room and share her single bed.
  • Finally they find a dodgy motel that has some space, but the proprietor tells them the only room left contains one single bed.
  • Cell-like, there is just room for a single bed, a desk and a chest of drawers.
1.4 archaic Not accompanied by others; alone.
Example sentences
  • She was quite single and by herself.
2Unmarried or not involved in a stable sexual relationship: a single mother
More example sentences
  • Even unwed single mothers have said that they want more children than they have, even in an unwed state.
  • Being single after my last relationship has been a blessing.
  • One second I would remember that I had spent the last couple of months of our relationship wishing I was single.
unmarried, unwed, unwedded, unattached, free, without a partner/husband/wife, wifeless, husbandless, spouseless, partnerless, a bachelor, a spinster;
on the shelf
archaic sole
3 [attributive] Consisting of one part: the studio was a single large room
More example sentences
  • My neighbour Hassan Sheikh lived on the terrace of his building, in a single room surrounded by cotes for his pigeons.
  • The project actually carried me a step closer to perfecting my single room living arrangement.
  • The main exhibition space occupies two of these boxes, but reads as a single room inside - it's a lot of effort for not much result.
3.1British (Of a ticket) valid for an outward journey only, not for the return: a first-class single ticket
More example sentences
  • First of all, it's the prices: £55.00 for a single ticket from Manchester to Norwich.
  • The £11 cash value of a single ticket was then removed, and the money was amassed over a long period of time.
  • Trouble is, single tickets are going up to £2.
3.2(Of a flower) having only one whorl of petals: the individual blooms can be single, semi-double, or fully double
More example sentences
  • Flower form can be single, semi-double, or fully double blooms that look similar to miniature roses.
3.3Denoting an alcoholic drink that consists of one measure of spirits: a single whisky
More example sentences
  • What we're talking about is a middy of beer, or a small glass of wine, or a single measure of spirits.
  • A single unit is half-a-pint of beer, a small glass of wine or a single measure of spirits.
4 archaic Free from duplicity or deceit; ingenuous: a pure and single heart
More example sentences
  • We must learn to have not only a clean and right heart but also a pure and single heart.


1An individual person or thing rather than part of a pair or a group.
Example sentences
  • The end result is a photography of mythical proportions that is camouflaged in paint and operates in singles rather than multiples.
  • It is sold in singles for $5.95, with complete instructions to make the style of tassel shown here.
1.1A short record or CD featuring one main song or track.
Example sentences
  • There may be thousands of vinyl singles and long-playing albums stacked on shelves in the radio's library - but the days of loading vinyl on to a turntable are long gone.
  • Fame is winning a televised talent show with a song, and then releasing a couple of singles and an album or two.
  • She has already notched up three top 10 singles and is currently recording her second album in London.
1.2 (singles) People who are unmarried or not involved in a stable sexual relationship: the divorce rate is rising so you’ll see more singles in their late 30s and early 40s [as modifier]: a singles holiday
More example sentences
  • The UK's singles want relationships that don't involve their partners actually moving in, a new BBC survey has revealed.
  • All the profiles are from real singles seeking sincere relationships and will always remain that way.
  • He has publish Ebooks and articles on psychology, singles, relationships and Popular Culture.
1.3British A ticket that is valid only for an outward journey.
Example sentences
  • I could have bought a single on the train.
1.4A single measure of spirits.
Example sentences
  • Last night a Wetherspoon spokesman admitted that offering doubles rather than singles was standard practice in all the company's pubs.
1.5US informal A one-dollar note.
Example sentences
  • Do you have any singles?
2A play that scores one point, in particular:
2.1 Cricket A hit for one run.
Example sentences
  • He provided his usual limpet-like support for Lara, working the singles, and being content to feed the strike, as they added 169 in just over 30 overs.
  • He got there by guiding the 131st ball he faced, from Irfan Pathan, to square leg for a single.
  • Laker and Bailey started towards the ball, hesitated, and the batsmen scrambled a single.
2.2 Baseball A hit which allows the batter to proceed safely to first base.
Example sentences
  • The next batter hits a line-drive single to right past an outstretched second baseman.
  • The Yanks elected to intentionally walk Hunter, and a Koskie single loaded the bases.
  • He gave up a pair of singles to Hank Blalock and Michael Young leading off the inning before he was relieved by Troy Percival.
3 (singles) (Especially in tennis and badminton) a game or competition for individual players, not pairs or teams.
Example sentences
  • The result also keeps Scotland in contention for the coveted Leonard Trophy, awarded to the nation with the best overall-points total from the singles, pairs, triples and fours.
  • They would have loved to win the singles title rather than end up with another of those doubles titles.
  • With his exit from the men's singles yesterday another denizen of the baseline bit Wimbledon dust.
4 (usually singles) Bell-ringing A system of change-ringing in which one pair of bells changes places at each round.
Example sentences
  • Choose your bell and choose another with whom you're going to make the singles.


[with object]
1 (single someone/thing out) Choose someone or something from a group for special treatment: one newspaper was singled out for criticism
More example sentences
  • So approached, there is nothing in Mr Taylor's identity which singles him out for differential treatment.
  • It feels like we have been singled out for this treatment.
  • Viewed differently from German-Americans and Italian-Americans, Japanese residents were singled out for special treatment.
select, pick out, fix on, choose, decide on;
target, earmark;
mark out, distinguish, differentiate, separate out, set apart/aside, put aside;
2Thin out (seedlings or saplings): hand hoes are used for singling roots
More example sentences
  • There is pea picking and hop picking, and occasionally a little weeding, singling roots, and picking potatoes, and helping at hay harvest.
3Reduce (a railway track) to a single line: the South Western line was singled west of Salisbury
More example sentences
  • Significant changes occurred to the line in May 1965, when the line was singled.
4 [no object] Baseball Hit a single: Cohen singled to centre
More example sentences
  • Millar greeted Clemens with a first-pitch homer to left-field, Nixon worked a walk, and Bill Mueller singled to center as Nixon took third.
  • When Tony Womack escaped a full count by singling to center with two outs, I figured Jim Tracy would cue Gagne, but he let Lima press onward against the dangerous Walker.
  • D Johnson singled to right center, J Payton to third.
4.1 [with object] Cause (a run) to be scored by hitting a single.
Example sentences
  • The next night, he hit a pair of two-run homers and singled home the winning run in the eighth inning.
  • In the home sixth inning, Yaz tied the game with a two-run single and Harrelson singled home the lead run.
  • At Cleveland, pinch-hitter Victor Martinez singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, leading Cleveland past Cincinnati.
4.2 [with object] Advance (a runner) by hitting a single.
Example sentences
  • Reyes scored three runs and stole two bases, and his triple in the seventh inning tied the score before Carlos Beltran singled him home with the go-ahead run.
  • Matsui finally gained some redemption in the fifth, singling home Williams from second after the Yankee centerfielder had doubled.
  • Let's say the Angels have Darin Erstad on second base and one out when Tim Salmon singles him home in the eighth inning, breaking a 2-2 tie.



Example sentences
  • However, he does not have to contemplate singledom just yet.
  • I have witnessed firsthand the startling inconsistency with which Corporate America deals with singledom.
  • Hurley had reacted to her new singledom in a masculine assertive way, with a series of short, publicly passionate affairs.


Pronunciation: /ˈsɪŋɡ(ə)lnəs/
Example sentences
  • We would not want immediate access, purity, singleness, even if we could find it.
  • My continued singleness and ever increasing incapability to even approach a prospective partner will ensure that I die old and lonely unless some kind person is willing to take pity on me.
  • Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ.


Middle English: via Old French from Latin singulus, related to simplus 'simple'.

Words that rhyme with single

commingle, cringle, dingle, Fingal, intermingle, jingle, mingle, shingle, swingle, tingle

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: sin¦gle

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