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Is there a synonym for "unique" that specifically applies to a custom-made or customized item - say, a car - of which only one copy exists?

Something like "once-in-a-lifetime" but in the meaning of something like "only-one-in-the-world"?

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    Just combine the adjectives unique and custom-made to get: "a unique, custom-made car". There's no need for a single word, and I don't believe one exists. Would you ask for a single word that meant big and red, so you wouldn't have to put two adjectives on big, red house? Mar 29, 2014 at 16:30
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    Bespoke is the UK version, though it normally applies only to personally tailored clothing. Mar 29, 2014 at 16:30
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    Bespoke or custom-made don't mean unique, although something that is bespoke (or custom-made) will quite likely be unique. Mar 29, 2014 at 16:32
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    One-off is used both adjectivally and nounally. At least in the UK. Mar 29, 2014 at 17:28
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    In the US, custom as an adjective is often used to mean just that.
    – bib
    Mar 29, 2014 at 17:47

4 Answers 4

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For the record the answer to the question "Is there a word for a unique manufactured item?" is "Yes." There are three terms:

One-off, custom, or bespoke.

All of these are used exactly, precisely, and commonly as you describe for exactly, precisely what you describe.

(Simply look on the web sites of companies that do precisely what you describe; whether custom car-makers in California, Mercedes' Designo workshop, Van Cleef on place vandome, or whatever.)

{Indeed it's hard to refer to, say, a custom kitchen maker, or a bespoke furniture studio, without using these common, well-known terms.}

(Sure, there are slight nuances of meaning and local favourites, but so what?)

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Two suggestions:

  • One-of-a-kind

  • Prototype

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  • But prototype suggests there will be more of the object, not necessarily but possibly the same.
    – Joachim
    May 4, 2022 at 15:18
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Unicum is what you are looking for. According to Lexico:

a unique example or specimen.

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Since you mentioned cars, it's worth knowing that the phrase "concept car" is very close to what you're talking about. This is generally only used for motor vehicles, though. You might see "concept truck" or "concept bike," but not "concept suit" or "concept computer."

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    A concept car is an example of a custom-made item of which only one copy exists, but it's not the answer to the question. A concept car is a demonstration of what the company might be building in the future, to showcase new (or imagined) technology and styling. Most concept cars are unique but not all unique cars are concept cars. Dec 20, 2014 at 12:04

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