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[kwol-i-tee] /ˈkwɒl ɪ ti/
noun, plural qualities.
an essential or distinctive characteristic, property, or attribute:
the chemical qualities of alcohol.
character or nature, as belonging to or distinguishing a thing:
the quality of a sound.
character with respect to fineness, or grade of excellence:
food of poor quality; silks of fine quality.
high grade; superiority; excellence:
wood grain of quality.
a personality or character trait:
kindness is one of her many good qualities.
native excellence or superiority.
an accomplishment or attainment.
good or high social position:
a man of quality.
the superiority or distinction associated with high social position.
Acoustics. the texture of a tone, dependent on its overtone content, that distinguishes it from others of the same pitch and loudness.
Phonetics. the tonal color, or timbre, that characterizes a particular vowel sound.
Logic. the character of a proposition as affirmative or negative.
Thermodynamics. the proportion or percentage of vapor in a mixture of liquid and vapor, as wet steam.
social status or position.
a person of high social position:
He's quality, that one is.
of or having superior quality:
quality paper.
producing or providing products or services of high quality or merit:
a quality publisher.
of or occupying high social status:
a quality family.
marked by a concentrated expenditure of involvement, concern, or commitment:
Counselors are urging that working parents try to spend more quality time with their children.
Origin of quality
1250-1300; Middle English qualite < Old French < Latin quālitās, equivalent to quāl(is) of what sort + -itās -ity
Related forms
qualityless, adjective
nonquality, noun, plural nonqualities.
subquality, noun, plural subqualities.
1. trait, character, feature. 3. nature, kind, grade, sort, condition.
Synonym Study
1. Quality, attribute, property agree in meaning a particular characteristic (of a person or thing). A quality is a characteristic, innate or acquired, that, in some particular, determines the nature and behavior of a person or thing: naturalness as a quality; the quality of meat. An attribute was originally a quality attributed, usually to a person or something personified; more recently it has meant a fundamental or innate characteristic: an attribute of God; attributes of a logical mind. Property applies only to things; it means a characteristic belonging specifically in the constitution of, or found (invariably) in, the behavior of a thing: physical properties of uranium or of limestone. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for qualities
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Rarely has there been exhibited so complete a combination of qualities in statesmanship.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • Gerald Raymount was a man of an unusual combination of qualities.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • The passage was stormy--the Bay of Biscay, in particular, giving us a touch of its qualities.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • We can never, therefore, have any reason to suppose the existence of these qualities.

  • He loved her dearly; but at that age her qualities were half developed.

    Alice, or The Mysteries, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for qualities


noun (pl) -ties
a distinguishing characteristic, property, or attribute
the basic character or nature of something
a trait or feature of personality
degree or standard of excellence, esp a high standard
(formerly) high social status or the distinction associated with it
musical tone colour; timbre
(logic) the characteristic of a proposition that is dependent on whether it is affirmative or negative
(phonetics) the distinctive character of a vowel, determined by the configuration of the mouth, tongue, etc, when it is articulated and distinguished from the pitch and stress with which it is uttered
(modifier) having or showing excellence or superiority: a quality product
Word Origin
C13: from Old French qualité, from Latin quālitās state, nature, from quālis of what sort
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for qualities



c.1300, "temperament, character, disposition," from Old French qualite "quality, nature, characteristic" (12c., Modern French qualité), from Latin qualitatem (nominative qualitas) "a quality, property; nature, state, condition" (said [Tucker, etc.] to have been coined by Cicero to translate Greek poiotes), from qualis "what kind of a," from PIE pronomial base *kwo- (see who).

Meaning "degree of goodness" is late 14c. Meaning "social rank, position" is c.1400. Noun phrase quality time first recorded 1977. Quality of life is from 1943. Quality control first attested 1935.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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