the quality

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From quality (high social position).

Noun[edit]

the quality (uncountable)

  1. (UK, idiomatic, archaic) The upper class, the high society, the gentry; the people of quality.
    • Addison
      I shall appear at the masquerade dressed up in my feathers, that the quality may see how pretty they will look in their travelling habits.
    • 1887, in The Athenaeum, p. 445:
      The rector kept open house on that day, but by degrees the “quality” gave up going, and the fair, of course, became disreputable, till at last it was put down as a nuisance.
    • 1960, P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing, chapter XIX:
      I would have spoken further, but before I could get under way the door opened, revealing Ma Cream, and [my manservant Jeeves] shimmered silently from the room. Unless expressly desired to remain, he always shimmers off when what is called the Quality arrive.
    • 1970, James Gordon Farrell, Troubles, 1st ed., p. 34:
      [In 1919 Ireland.] ‘Be quiet, Ripon! It's not nonsense at all. Ripon's father calls us “fish-eaters” and “Holy Romans” and so on. So does Ripon. So will you, Major, when you're among the “quality”. In fact, you'll become a member of the “quality” yourself, high and mighty, too good for the rest of us.’
    • 2006, James Alan Downie, "Who Says She's a Bourgeois Writer? Reconsidering the Social and Political Contexts of Jane Austen's Novels", in Eighteenth-Century Studies, Vol. 40, Nr. 1, Fall 2006:
      Yet they did not pretend to be members of ‘the quality’, the people of fashion, the cosmopolitan beau monde or the ton, although they were not above harping on their exalted acquaintances among the nobility or the antiquity of their lineage when they saw fit.

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  • “the quality”, Dictionary of Idiomatic English Phrases by James Main Dixon, 1891, p. 262 (facsimile).