I found someone writing

Der einmaligste Kuchen, den du jemals gesehen hast.

For me as a German this sounds strange. Is there really a comparative or even a superlative for einmalig? I mean, either something is unique or something is not. Imho, there isn't anything "uniquer" than any other thing.

(ah and maybe someone with enough reps wants to create some tags for comparative and superlative?)

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    Du hast dir die Frage schon selbst beantwortet: Nichts kann noch einmaliger sein als eine andere einmalige Sache. Das Adjektiv einmalig ist nicht steigerbar. Commented May 11, 2018 at 6:24
  • @BjörnFriedrich das war ja meine Frage, ob ich richtig liege, dass das völler Quatsch ist :D - aber danke Commented May 11, 2018 at 6:28
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    Das ist genauso falsch wie "einstigster", bzw. "einstigste" welches man recht oft hört. Commented May 11, 2018 at 6:35
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    Mir scheint es so, dass dieses Wort zwei bedeutungen hat. Einmalig, im Sinne von "unwiederholbar", kann nicht steigerbar sein, wie wir alle schon wissen. Was ist mit "einmalig" im Sinne von "phänomenal"? Commented May 11, 2018 at 8:02
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    I've heard "am einmaligsten" or "am einzigstartigsten" used mostly ironically but also sometimes unironically. I think the "sten" should be seen as intensifying suffix instead of a superlative modifier. Like the "aller" prefix in "das Allerbeste" ("the very best") which doesn't really make sense as superlative (there can't be anything better than the best) but is used frequently.
    – kapex
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 10:09

2 Answers 2


The form is constructed according to the normal way of forming superlatives, and you immediately recognized it as such. I'd say this means that the intent of the speaker came across to you load and clear, so we have no choice but to accept that someone formed a superlative for "einmalig" and you understood it.

That doesn't mean that it's in any way useful, "reasonable" or "correct" to do this - there could be any number of prescriptions "prohibiting" it. In this case, obviously it's unnecessary to form superlatives for a property that is incomparable by definition. But just as anti-theft laws don't actually prohibit theft, anti-nonsense rules don't actually prevent nonsense from being said. The question whether this sentence "really" contains a superlative or not is therefore down to definitions.

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    Everyone makes mistakes when they speak. So whoever wrote "Der einmaligste Kuchen" might just have been distracted or tired. The only way to know if it's grammatical in that person's German is to go and ask, "what do you think of this sentence? Is it grammatical?" Then s/he might say yes, and might say no. But that's still only one grammaticality judgement, one person's opinion. Commented May 11, 2018 at 8:54
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    @Wilson German has a (semi-)official source of truth, though, the Duden. Unlike with English, there is no such thing as that person's German. Words that are in common use may be added, but grammatical rules are not so easily changed. The Duden even contains rules that appear in dialects which might be ungrammatical in High German.
    – Graipher
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 11:14
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    In my language we commonly say "most optimal solution", "a bigger half", "more unique product". In math it's a nonsense, in but in common speech it makes perfect sense.
    – Oliv
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 14:41
  • @Graipher The Duden allows "Pizzas" too since some time, so I - just personally - don't put too much trust into that "truth". ;D
    – Ray
    Commented May 11, 2018 at 18:41

It isn't a superlativ, it is a Hyperlativ.

While people knowing German grammar will balk at its usage, it is used, mostly for

  • a hypothetical thing which is impossible because it combines advantages without disadvantages: "Das optimalste Farmtier wäre die eierlegende Wollmilchsau."

  • a thing which is so fantastically good that it dwarfs other things, so you adjust the language to show your enthusiasm: "Das ist der einmaligste Kuchen, den ich je gegessen habe" (Die bisherigen Kuchen waren kein Vergleich).

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