Word of the Day : June 29, 2012

quiddity

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noun KWID-uh-tee

Definition

1 : whatever makes something the type that it is : essence

2 a : a trifling point : quibble

b : an unusual personal opinion or habit : eccentricity

Did You Know?

When it comes to synonyms of "quiddity," the Q's have it. Consider "quintessence," a synonym of the "essence of a thing" sense of "quiddity" (this oldest sense of "quiddity" dates from the 14th century). "Quibble" is a synonym of the "trifling point" sense; that meaning of "quiddity" arose from the subtler points of 16th-century academic arguments. And "quirk," like "quiddity," can refer to a person's eccentricities. Of course, "quiddity" also derives from a "Q" word, the Latin pronoun "quis," which is one of two Latin words for "who" (the other is "qui"). "Quid," the neuter form of "quis," gave rise to the Medieval Latin "quidditas," which means "essence," a term that was essential to the development of the English "quiddity."


Examples

Rembrandt's genius was his unparalleled ability to render a person's quiddity in a single portrait.

"I would give Mark a perfect 10 if he did not use an old joke that belonged to Mickey Mantle that didn’t even get a laugh. A quiddity to be sure but enough to jolt me out of my reverie." - From a theater review by Harvey Sid Fisher at hollywoodtoday.net, June 8th, 2012



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