General English

General Science

  • noun a single organism or item considered as one rather than as a member of a group


  • noun a separate human being considered as one rather than as a member of a larger group

Information & Library Science

  • adjective relating to one single person or thing rather than to a group

Origin & History of “individual”

To begin with, individual retained in English its ancestral meaning ‘not able to be divided’: ‘in the name of the holy and individual Trinity’. Richard Whitbourne, Discourse and Discovery of Newfoundland 1623. It was borrowed from medieval Latin indīviduālis, a derivative of Latin indīviduus ‘not divisible’, which in turn was based on dīviduus, a derivative of the verb dīvidere ‘divide’. The semantic move from ‘not divisible’ to ‘single, separate’ took place in the 17th century. (English acquired the formally parallel indivisible, incidentally, in the 14th century.).