Meaning of “single” in the English Dictionary

"single" in British English

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singleadjective

uk /ˈsɪŋ.ɡəl/ us /ˈsɪŋ.ɡəl/

single adjective (ONE)

B2 [ before noun ] one only:

He knocked his opponent down with a single blow.
Not a single person offered to help her.
You haven't been listening to a single word I've been saying.

More examples

  • She insisted on telling me every single detail of what they did to her in hospital.
  • Identical twins develop from a single fertilized egg which then splits into two.
  • It was very difficult to encapsulate the story of the revolution in a single one-hour documentary.
  • Not a single sound fell from her lips.
  • He was floored with a single punch to the head.

single adjective (NOT MARRIED)

A2 not married, or not having a romantic relationship with someone:

a single woman/man/person
He's been single for so long now, I don't think he'll ever marry.
The number of single-parent families dependent on the state has risen enormously in recent years.

More examples

  • Women's rights groups have cried out against the proposed cut in benefit paid to single mothers.
  • He finds it extremely difficult being a single parent.
  • It's hard being a single mother.
  • Please state whether you are single, cohabiting, married, separated, divorced or widowed.
  • Children with single parents at my school were very much in the minority .

single adjective (SEPARATE)

B1 [ before noun ] considered on its own and separate from other things:

Patience is the single most important quality needed for this job.
She lost every single thing when her house burned down.

More examples

  • The closure of the Manchester printing factory is the company's biggest single cutback so far.
  • It's a huge window made from a single pane of glass.
  • The single most important factor in health was good sanitation.

singleverb [ I ]

uk /ˈsɪŋ.ɡəl/ us /ˈsɪŋ.ɡəl/

singlenoun [ C ]

uk /ˈsɪŋ.ɡəl/ us /ˈsɪŋ.ɡəl/

a record or CD that has a main song and usually a small number of other songs on it:

Have you heard Lady Gaga's new single?

in cricket, one run (= point)

in baseball, a hit that allows the player to reach first base

singles [ U ]

a game, especially in tennis, played between one player on one side and one on the other

Compare
singles [ plural ]

people who are not married and do not have a romantic relationship with someone

single (ticket) B1 UK

a ticket for a journey to a place, but not for the return:

May I have a single to London, please.

(Definition of “single” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"single" in American English

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singleadjective [ not gradable ]

us /ˈsɪŋ·ɡəl/

single adjective [ not gradable ] (ONE)

one only:

A single customer was left in the shop.

A single bed is a bed for one person.

single adjective [ not gradable ] (SEPARATE)

considered by itself or separate from other things:

Taxes are the single most important source of funds for the government.

single adjective [ not gradable ] (NOT MARRIED)

not married:

He’s been single for so long, I don’t think he’ll ever marry.

singlenoun [ C ]

us /ˈsɪŋ·ɡəl/

single noun [ C ] (DOLLAR BILL)

A single is a one-dollar bill.

A single is also a room for only one person.

single noun [ C ] (PERSON WHO IS NOT MARRIED)

a person who is not married:

Singles pay more in income tax than married people do.

(Definition of “single” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"single" in Business English

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singleadjective [ before noun ]

uk /ˈsɪŋɡl/ us

one only:

Journalism often relies on a single source.
Is a thread of e-mails a single document or many?
a single use card

UK TRANSPORT travelling or allowing travel in only one direction:

a single fare/ticket/journey

singlenoun [ C ]

uk /ˈsɪŋɡl/ us

UK TRANSPORT a ticket for a journey to a place, but not back again:

single to somewhere A single to London, please.
Compare

US MONEY a piece of paper money worth one dollar

(Definition of “single” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)