quiddity

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Middle French quiddité, and its source, Late Latin quidditas, from Latin quid + -itas.

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Noun[edit]

quiddity (plural quiddities)

  1. (philosophy) The essence or inherent nature of a person or thing.
    • 1822, October, Charles Lamb, The Old Actors, published in London Magazine, section on “Mr. Munden” (ebook):
      A tub of butter, contemplated by him, amounts to a Platonic idea. He understands a leg of mutton in its quiddity. He stands wondering, amid the commonplace materials of life, like primæval man, with the sun and stars about him.
    • 1962, Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire:
      My vision reeked with truth. It had the tone,
      The quiddity and quaintness of its own
      Reality.
    • 1978, Lawrence Durrell, Livia, Faber & Faber 1992 (Avignon Quintet), p. 352:
      He represented my quiddity I suppose – the part which, thanks to you, has converted a black pessimism about life into a belief in cosmic absurdity.
  2. (law) A trifle; a nicety or quibble.
  3. An eccentricity; an odd feature.

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