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My friends are telling me that calling a mission peerless - a unique mission - is not correct. Is that true? I thought that unique is very much equivalent to peerless.

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Peerless does not mean unique - it means without peer, without an equal, superior in kind not merely degree. – StoneyB Aug 23 '12 at 2:22
up vote 3 down vote accepted

You certainly can. An article in The Washington Post titled "For Searchers in Iraq, a Peerless Mission" did just that. It may not be the most common phrasing, but it is valid.

As per the comments, unique shouldn't be equated with peerless. Someone may have a unique hairstyle, but that does not make it peerless (the best you've ever seen, surpassed by none). Likewise, an actor may give a peerless performance (an unmatched rendition of Hamlet), but it may not be unique (others have done it, just not as well).

I agree with FumbleFingers that the construction sounds awkward and isn't one you'd find on a typical basis.

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Thanks for the link! – Krzysiek Aug 23 '12 at 1:16
I guess it's "valid", but it doesn't sound good to me. Nor, to be honest, does matchless mission, which actually occurs more than twice as often in Google Books there, with 63 written instances. – FumbleFingers Aug 23 '12 at 1:36

Here is a peerless mission ... near Santa Barbara, California...

enter image description here

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I certainly hope it's peerless. Post-modernism on acid. – StoneyB Aug 23 '12 at 2:23
Would Rambo II qualify, too (literal interpretation - without a peer, i.e. solo)? – Zairja Aug 23 '12 at 13:07

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