A singleton has an established meaning in programming and mathematics, but I'm curious about the more general use of the term (as defined by Merriam-Webster):

2a : an individual member or thing distinct from others grouped with it

Suppose I have a group member that is not distinct from the other group members. What is the opposite of a “singleton member”? Google results are surprisingly unhelpful. The closest I can get is this SO answer, specific to the programming context.

  • 1
    It's a term from bridge. Bridge has four players with hands of 13 cards each, so the normal distribution for any suit is three per hand, with one hand of four. When a player has only one card in a particular suit (say, hearts), it is said to be a singleton heart. If there are two, it's a doubleton. And if there are none, one is said to be void in hearts. Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 22:22
  • EtymOnline.com: singleton (n.) "single card of a suit in a hand," 1876, originally in whist, from single (adj.). Also: single (n.) late 15c., "the middle or outer claw on the foot of a hawk or falcon," from single (adj.). Given various technical meanings from 16c. Sports sense is attested from 1851 (cricket), 1885 (baseball). Meaning "phonograph record with one song on each side" is from 1949. Meaning "unmarried person" is from 1964; singles bar attested from 1969. An earlier word for "unmarried or unattached person" is singleton (1937).
    – MetaEd
    Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 22:26

5 Answers 5


Simply compound non- (negation) and singleton to get non-singleton, which will be readily comprehended by anyone who knows singleton. For example, in a hand of cards, you can refer to a non-singleton king and it will be understood that there is at least one other card of that suit in the hand.

In English, it is common to express meaning using compounds. In particular, there are many productive prefixes and suffixes which can be meaningfully compounded with a root word.


The term commodity can mean

a mass-produced unspecialized product: commodity chemicals

It is used to distinguish a thing that is available in multiple quantities and whose units are intercangheable as opposed to something that is unique.


Adjective fungible means “Able to be substituted for something of equal value or utility; interchangeable, exchangeable, replaceable”. For example, dollars in a bank account are fungible. For that matter, dollar bills themselves typically can be exchanged with others without making any difference, and may be thought of as fungible.

(This answer addresses the “group member that is not distinct from the other group members” portion of your question. For the “opposite of singleton” part, consider non-singleton or perhaps replicate or replicated.)

  • +1 Yes, especially the second paragraph. As you point out, "replicate" can be a noun. It would be appropriate in place of "non-singleton" when the member is truly identical to some others in the set.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 23:07
  • Or perhaps even replicant
    – bib
    Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 23:20

The OED defines multiplet as a set of more than three or four similar things, and gives the following illustrative quotation:

Young men like identical multiplets, all wearing starched new overalls, yellow golf caps, yellow duster bandanas [Mtutuzeli Matshoba · Call me not a man · 1979]

The author seems to use the word multiplet for elements of a set rather than the set itself (?).

  • 1
    The example seems to refer to people, who can certainly be one of twins or a twin; one of triplets or a triplet, and hence presumably one of multiplets or a multiplet. But scientifically a triplet is more commonly 'a set of three' than 'one of such a set'; the definition implies multiplet is similar. Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 0:01

In the mathematical sense, I'd say a member of a set and use some quantifier to describe the size of the set. Extending that to other definitions: one of three siblings, a spouse (implying a married couple), two of a kind, etc. Maybe a well-implemented class from the programming perspective. In a more general sense of not unique, I might say uniform, conformist, homogeneous along those lines.

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