Word of the Day Archive
Tuesday November 23, 1999
quiddity \KWID-ih-tee\ , noun:
1. The essence, nature, or distinctive peculiarity of a thing.
2. A hairsplitting distinction; a trifling point; a quibble.
3. An eccentricity; an odd feature.
He wanted to capture not just live animals, but the aliveness of animals in their natural state: their wildness, their quiddity, the fox-ness of the fox and the crow-ness of the crow
-- Thomas Nye, quoted in "Ted Hughes, 68, a Symbolic Poet And Sylvia Plath's Husband, Dies", New York Times, October 30, 1998
She has looked after my interests with consummate skill, dealt with my quiddities and constantly kept up my spirits.
-- John Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination
It is neither grammatical subtleties nor logical quiddities, nor the witty contexture of choice words or arguments and syllogisms, that will serve my turn.
-- Michel de Montaigne, "Of Books"
I began . . . to give some thought to the memoir I had promised to write and wondered how I would go about it -- his freaks, quiddities, oddities, his eating, drinking, shaving, dressing and playfully savaging his students.
-- Saul Bellow, Ravelstein
Quiddity comes from the scholastic Medieval Latin term quidditas, "essence," from quid, "what."