qui·​etus kwī-ˈē-təs How to pronounce quietus (audio) -ˈā- How to pronounce quietus (audio)
: final settlement (as of a debt)
: removal from activity
especially : death
: something that quiets or represses
put the quietus on their celebration

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In the early 1500s, English speakers adopted the Medieval Latin phrase quietus est (literally "he is quit") as the name for the writ of discharge exempting a baron or knight from payment of a knight's fee to the king. The expression was later shortened to "quietus" and applied to the termination of any debt. William Shakespeare was the first to use "quietus" as a metaphor for the termination of life: "For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, … When he himself might his quietus make / With a bare bodkin?" (Hamlet). The third meaning, which is more influenced by "quiet" than "quit," appeared in the 19th century. It often occurs in the phrase "put the quietus on" (as in, "The bad news put the quietus on their celebration").

Examples of quietus in a Sentence

was granted a quietus on the remainder of the debt in the old man's will her unshakable belief in a blissful afterlife allowed her to meet her quietus without the slightest tinge of fear or regret
Recent Examples on the Web On the supply side, climate experts give him credit for suspending drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and for giving the final quietus to Keystone. Bill McKibben, The New Yorker, 9 June 2021 If Berryman is playing Cassandra to himself, crying out the details of his own quietus, how did the cry begin? Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 12 Oct. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'quietus.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English quietus est, borrowed from Medieval Latin, "he is quit," formula of discharge from obligation

First Known Use

1540, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of quietus was in 1540


Dictionary Entries Near quietus

Cite this Entry

“Quietus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quietus. Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


qui·​etus kwī-ˈēt-əs How to pronounce quietus (audio)
: a final freeing from something (as a debt or duty)
: something that quiets or brings under control
put the quietus on their celebration
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