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quiddity

[kwid-i-tee] /ˈkwɪd ɪ ti/
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
1530-1540
1530-40; < Medieval Latin quidditās, equivalent to Latin quid what + -itās -ity
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for quiddity

quiddity

/ˈkwɪdɪtɪ/
noun (pl) -ties
1.
(philosophy) the essential nature of something Compare haecceity
2.
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
noun

the real nature or essence of something which makes it different from others

Word Origin

Latin quid 'something' + -ity

noun

a subtlety or quibbling point; triviality

Word Origin

Latin quid 'something' + -ity

Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
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Word Origin and History for quiddity
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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22
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