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Word of the Day
Thursday, December 29, 2005

Definitions for quiddity

  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.

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Citations for quiddity
If, argues he, we could only find out exactly what humour is 'in its quiddity,' we could keep ourselves humorous, or at any rate bring up our children to be so. Henry Duff Traill, "The Future of Humour," The New Fiction, 1897
Once this thought crossed my mind: every time an author dies, out of respect a word should also pass out of being. A word the author loved and used repeatedly in writing—that word should be his and die with him. Nabokov: quiddity… the essence of a thing; also, a trifling point, a trivial, inessential thing. Mary Ruefle, "Someone Reading a Book Is a Sign of Order in the World," Madness, Rack, and Honey, 2012
Origin of quiddity
Quiddity derives from the Latin root quid meaning "what; something; anything." It entered English around 1400.