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See also: quillet-



Etymology 1[edit]

Uncertain. Possibly a shortening of earlier quillity, itself of uncertain origin, or from Latin quidlibet (anything).


quillet (plural quillets)

  1. A quibble, an evasive distinction.
    • c. 1599–1602, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act V, scene i], page 277, column 2:
      There’s another : why might not that bee the Scull of a Lawyer ? where be his Quiddits now ? his Quillets ? his Caſes ? his Tenures, and his Tricks ? why doe’s he ſuffer this rude knaue now to knocke him about the Sconce with a dirty Shouell, and will not tell him of his Action of Battery ? hum.
    • 1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069; The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd corrected and augmented edition, Oxford: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, 1624, OCLC 54573970, (please specify |partition=1, 2, or 3):
      , NYRB, 2001, volume 1, page 327-8:
      Hence it comes that such a pack of vile buffoons [] intrude with unwashed feet upon the sacred precinct of Theology, bringing with them nothing save brazen impudence, and some hackneyed quillets and scholastic trifles not good enough for a crowd at a street corner.

Etymology 2[edit]

Uncertain. Possibly from Anglo-Norman/Old French cueillette (uncultivated strip of land for the gathering of herbs, berries, snails, etc.).


quillet (plural quillets)

  1. (now regional) A small plot of land; historically: a strip of land that together with others like it formed a larger field.
    • 1908, Sabine Baring-Gould, “Hugh Stafford and the Royal Wilding”, in Devonshire Characters and Strange Events, London: John Lane, page 7:
      The single and only [Royal Wilding apple] tree from which the apple was first propagated is very tall, fair, and stout ; I believe it stands about twenty feet high. It stands in a very little quillet (as we call it) of gardening, adjoining to the post-road that leads from Exeter to Oakhampton, in the parish of St. Thomas, but near the borders of another parish called Whitestone.