Word of the Day : September 6, 2018

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

"The elegant, punky, petroleum-like smokiness that imbues every good mezcal, and which is its quiddity, comes from the burning of the agave heart." — Ray Harvey, The Coloradoan, 19 May 2016

"An apparently intractable fact of life is that our thoughts are inaccessible to one another. Our skulls are like space helmets; we are trapped in our heads, unable to convey the quiddity of our sensations." — Jason Pontin, Wired, 16 Apr. 2018



Word Family Quiz

Fill in the blanks to complete a noun rooted in Latin quis (meaning "who"): u _ _ qu _ _ y.

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