quiddity

quiddity

[kwid-i-tee]
noun, plural quiddities.
1.
the quality that makes a thing what it is; the essential nature of a thing.
2.
a trifling nicety of subtle distinction, as in argument.

Origin:
1530–40; < Medieval Latin quidditās, equivalent to Latin quid what + -itās -ity

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World English Dictionary
quiddity (ˈkwɪdɪtɪ)
 
n , pl -ties
1.  philosophy Compare haecceity the essential nature of something
2.  a petty or trifling distinction; quibble
 
[C16: from Medieval Latin quidditās, from Latin quid what]

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Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
Main Entry:  quiddity1
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  the real nature or essence of something which makes it different from others
Etymology:  Latin quid 'something' + -ity
Main Entry:  quiddity2
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  a subtlety or quibbling point; triviality
Etymology:  Latin quid 'something' + -ity
Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

quiddity
1539, "captious nicety in argument" from M.L. quidditas, lit. "whatness," from L. quid "what," neut. of quis (see who). Sense developed from scholastic disputes over the nature of things. Original meaning "real essence or nature of a thing" is attested in Eng. from 1569.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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