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[kwid-i-tee] /ˈkwɪd ɪ ti/
noun, plural quiddities.
the quality that makes a thing what it is; the essential nature of a thing.
a trifling nicety of subtle distinction, as in argument.
Origin of quiddity
1350-1400; < Medieval Latin quidditās, equivalent to Latin quid what + -itās -ity Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for quiddity
Historical Examples
  • The suchness of being implies a previously existing being and quiddity.

    Plotinos: Complete Works, v. 1 Plotinos (Plotinus)
  • Aristotle has thus shown how the Essence or quiddity (τί ἐστι) may become known in this class of cases.

    Aristotle George Grote
  • The lawyer's clerk, whose name was quiddity, also set about publishing the whole of the matter abroad.

  • I think that he is right, and that the profitable study of a man is the study which regards him as an oddity, not a quiddity.

    Romance Walter Raleigh
  • There you indeed appreciate the dead-alive city 'in all its quiddity.'

    A Day's Tour Percy Fitzgerald
  • On the next interview Mr. Mumbles, delighted with the report of quiddity, addressed him with truly dignified solemnity.

  • Whatness and affections (quiddity) of being distinguishes between, ii.

    Plotinos: Complete Works, v. 4 Plotinos (Plotinus)
British Dictionary definitions for quiddity


noun (pl) -ties
(philosophy) the essential nature of something Compare haecceity
a petty or trifling distinction; quibble
Word Origin
C16: from Medieval Latin quidditās, from Latin quid what
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Contemporary definitions for quiddity

a subtlety or quibbling point; triviality

Word Origin

Latin quid 'something' + -ity's 21st Century Lexicon
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Word Origin and History for quiddity

"a trifling nicety in argument, a quibble," 1530s, from Medieval Latin quidditas "the essence of things," in Scholastic philosophy, "that which distinguishes a thing from other things," literally "whatness," from Latin quid "what," neuter of indefinite pronoun quis "somebody, someone or other" (see who). Sense developed from scholastic disputes over the nature of things. Original classical meaning "real essence or nature of a thing" is attested in English from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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