Quick Summary

The prefix uni- which means “one” is an important prefix in the English language. For instance, the prefix uni- gave rise to the words unicycle, uniform, and unison. Perhaps the easiest way to remember that uni- means “one” is through the word unicorn, or mythological horse that had “one” horn.

One at a Time

The prefix uni- which means “one” is an important prefix in the English language. Let’s see how this prefix works with more than just “one” example!

A unicorn, for instance, is a mythological horse that had “one” horn sprouting from its forehead. The universe is etymologically all of perceptible creation turned into “one” entirety. A university is a place that has been turned into “one” area of learning for both undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Imagine going to a circus. You might see performers doing stunts on unicycles, or bicycles with just “one” wheel instead of two. These performers would probably be in uniforms, so that they all appear to make “one” outward shape. They might also perform in a unified fashion, all doing the same moves at the same time. They might even sing in unison, all in “one” sound!

A union of two people in marriage makes them “one” couple. Speaking of political unions, the states of the United States all form “one” nation. The motto of the United States is, appropriately, e pluribus unum, or “one” nation formed from many peoples.

The Latin number unus, “one,” gave rise to many similar sounding number “ones” in the Romance languages. French has both un and une, Spanish has uno, and Italian likewise has uno, to name a few. The last two numbers remind us of the card game Uno, where each player tries to get down to “one” card before calling out “Uno!”

I hope that this unique list of words which explain the “one” prefix uni- is helpful in your various subjects’ units in school!

  1. unicorn: horse with ‘one’ horn
  2. Universe: creation turned into ‘one’ totality
  3. university: ‘one’ area of academic learning for graduate and undergraduate degrees
  4. unicycle: bicycle with ‘one’ wheel instead of two
  5. uniform: clothes which give ‘one’ shape
  6. unified: made as ‘one’
  7. unison: making ‘one’ sound
  8. union: a making of ‘one’ from different parts
  9. United States: states made into ‘one’ nation
  10. e pluribus unum: ‘one’ from many
  11. unique: pertaining to something of which there is only ‘one’ example
  12. unit: ‘one’ of a whole range of things


  • unison

    Doing something in unison is doing it all together at one time.

  • unanimous

    In a unanimous decision about something, all people involved agree or are united in their opinion.

  • unilateral

    A unilateral decision is entirely one-sided, involving only one facet of an issue or one country among many.

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