• 1Referring to a person or thing previously mentioned or easily identified.

    ‘her mood changed from one of moroseness to one of joy’
    ‘her best apron, the white one’
    ‘do you want one?’
    • ‘He pauses to pour himself another glass of white wine, but not before offering me one.’
    • ‘Can you manage to stack things into a bag so that the most fragile items are on the bottom, and the heavy ones are on the top?’
    • ‘This is a controversial point and one that foreign governments certainly overlook.’
    • ‘Police said it is not yet possible to say whether the incident was linked to the previous ones.’
    • ‘I still have a jersey from 1995 but it's not that white anymore and it was time to get a new one.’
    • ‘She knew she had the face of a teenager, and always hated being referred to as one.’
    • ‘These are all rather fetching names, though few of them are ones it would have occurred to me to choose.’
    • ‘The men all had Irish accents and one was referred to Jon Jon.’
    • ‘This was not really an issue of black and white but one of perceived notions of right and wrong.’
    • ‘The standard of care to be expected of a GP who is on the obstetric list is thus different from one who is not.’
    • ‘It was a decision I had to make for myself and my family, but it wasn't one that I made easily.’
    • ‘Three commercial purchasers were identified and one was ready to conclude the sale.’
    • ‘However, branching out on your own can be a huge step to take, not to mention a risky one too.’
    • ‘Even his jokes are the same ones he was telling when he set off on the campaign trail months ago.’
    • ‘All that's left now is to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and let's hope it's a white one!’
    • ‘She had three rings on her right hand, all white metal, two with stones and one with a Celtic type band.’
    • ‘You can easily tell the new scenes from the old ones, even if you've never seen the films before.’
    • ‘In the end, she found another apartment, at more than double the rent of her previous one.’
    • ‘As a result my time was not as quick as the one I had previously achieved this morning.’
    • ‘So how do you turn that feeling as the bank statement drops on your doormat from one of dread to joy?’
  • 2A person of a specified kind.

    ‘you're the one who ruined her life’
    ‘my friends and loved ones’
    • ‘He's not one for making a fuss.’
    • ‘Frank was never one to act superior to the younger poets who were coming along.’
    • ‘How could we have thought that we would be the lucky ones?’
    • ‘The lucky ones who do get permission have the Immigration and Naturalization Service to thank.’
    • ‘Be thankful it is not one of your loved ones that have met their fate in this way.’
    • ‘Some people create new holiday traditions or ways of honoring loved ones who have died.’
    • ‘It probably won't win them new fans but should satisfy old ones and entice back some who gave up on the band.’
    • ‘One feels for police who have to inform families that one of their loved ones has just been killed.’
    • ‘To go in the draw to win, all you have to do is write in and tell us why you should be one of the lucky ones to win a double pass.’
    • ‘They had to learn that she was not one to be trifled with.’
    • ‘I'm not one for exercise videos, exercise equipment, etc.’
    • ‘He's always the one who keeps the conversation going.’
    • ‘There are many heartbreaking narratives from families whose loved ones have died of mental illnesses.’
    • ‘All I really know is that the good ones are always the ones who go before their time.’
    • ‘We tend to forget that the victim may as well have been one of our loved ones or even us.’
    • ‘Thank you again, for the safe return of my dearest little ones.’
    • ‘I really don't know where all the good looking ones are.’
    • ‘Younger ones are likely to be satisfied with a simple answer to questions.’
    • ‘A recognition of others as being your dearest ones need not be confined to recognizing them as mothers alone.’
    • ‘She's the one who broke all my equipment.’
    1. 2.1A person who is remarkable in some way.
      ‘you never saw such a one for figures’
      • ‘She has been described as one in a million because she steadfastly refused to be beaten by cancer.’
      • ‘Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.’
      • ‘Oh you are a one - you've got me talking about my body already, and we hardly know each other!’
      • ‘Your photo of Susan Brookes of whom very few have heard, proclaimed her to be such a one.’
  • 3[third person singular] Used to refer to the speaker, or any person, as representing people in general.

    ‘one must admire him for his willingness’
    ‘one gets the impression that he is ahead’
    • ‘It is in the context of such fears that choosing the sex of one's children must seem tempting.’
    • ‘What is one to make, for example, of the way he is said to have behaved?’
    • ‘Was this before, or after an encounter with Mr Knight, one is compelled to ask?’
    • ‘For example, proximity to one's home and community may act as a spur to some to fight harder.’
    • ‘In fact, one might wonder whether the photograph in such a situation can be of any use to a researcher at all.’
    • ‘One should never underestimate the unnatural things that food companies will do to natural foods.’
    • ‘It is impossible not to know what the powers are, if one bothers to read the white paper.’
    • ‘The way one moves forward philosophically is by looking backwards in a fresh manner.’
    • ‘In other contexts sacrificing oneself for one's family would be considered good.’
    • ‘It is one thing to assert one's good intentions, but another entirely to act upon them.’
    • ‘Such questions rest on premises that must be clarified before one can attempt answers.’
    • ‘Some have been so bad that one imagines the umpires must have taken him to be left-handed.’
    • ‘They are paintings so characteristic that one must think them very beautiful or else not at all so.’
    • ‘To answer this, one must look at the heritage from which this trend has arisen.’
    • ‘Still, one does have to praise the DVD for its sound and vision.’
    • ‘So one might worry that moral transformation might involve loss of this natural good.’
    • ‘If that's how he intends to treat his new boss, one must fear for the players he has inherited.’
    • ‘The second year after planting, one can expect to harvest about 1,000 lb per acre.’
    • ‘Secondly, the public health community generally believes that one must do no harm.’
    • ‘Must one now assume that empty bins do not represent an obstruction nor a serious safety hazard?’
    • ‘On the press, Joe Ashton is scathing and one must feel sympathy for what he says.’


In modern English the use of one as a pronoun to mean ‘anyone’ or ‘me and people in general’, as in one must try one's best, is generally restricted to formal contexts, outside which it is likely to be regarded as rather pompous or old-fashioned. In informal and spoken contexts the normal alternative is you, as in you have to do what you can, don't you?