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Are the rules regarding absolute modifiers too absolute?

Reading the sentence below, written on The Telegraph, it can notice the phrase quite unique.

I never imagined a situation when I would write this line, but I think I need the help of a Welsh speaker. There is something quite unique happening with the Wales team and I need a name for it.

Considering that unique, from the Latin for one, means "being the only one of a kind", does it need to change quite unique with the only term unique or, maybe, with the phrase almost unique?

Or, is quite unique acceptable to use for native English speaker?

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marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Mar 25 '12 at 19:44

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2 Answers 2

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Yes, this phrase is acceptable to native English speakers. One of the meanings of quite is to the greatest possible degree, therefore it can be used with a non-gradable adjective like unique. Other examples are quite delicious or quite amazing. For more information on quite and its usage, check this link.

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Do you think that analogues considerations can be made for **very**, in the sense that **very unique** is equivalent to **quite unique**? –  user19148 Mar 25 '12 at 19:49
    
@Carlo_R.: *Very unique isn't normally said. Very and quite are not equivalents, nor are they used in the same way. Check here for information on the usage of very. –  Irene Mar 25 '12 at 19:56
    
Thank you, Irene, for helping me. –  user19148 Mar 25 '12 at 20:00
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@Carlo_R.: The reason most people don't have a problem with quite unique is because quite there has more the sense of remarkably and definitely, rather than very. So you'll often hear quite unique, but you'll rarely hear very unique. –  FumbleFingers Mar 25 '12 at 20:00
    
@FumbleFingers: Thank you, FumbleFingers, for helping me. –  user19148 Mar 25 '12 at 20:02

It really hinges on what they wanted 'unique' to mean. If they're strictly defining it as 'one of a kind', using quite as an adjective seems erroneous because something's either totally different or it isn't -- there are no shades of grey in between.

On the other hand, you could argue that because the event is multifaceted, there are some aspects of the situation which are unique and some that are not - meaning that, overall, the entire situation is somewhat unique, or quite unique, or partially unique.

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