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[kwik] /kwɪk/
adjective, quicker, quickest.
done, proceeding, or occurring with promptness or rapidity, as an action, process, etc.; prompt; immediate:
a quick response.
that is over or completed within a short interval of time:
a quick shower.
moving, or able to move, with speed:
a quick fox; a quick train.
swift or rapid, as motion:
a quick flick of the wrist.
easily provoked or excited; hasty:
a quick temper.
keenly responsive; lively; acute:
a quick wit.
acting with swiftness or rapidity:
a quick worker.
prompt or swift to do something:
quick to respond.
prompt to perceive; sensitive:
a quick eye.
prompt to understand, learn, etc.; of ready intelligence:
a quick student.
(of a bend or curve) sharp:
a quick bend in the road.
consisting of living plants:
a quick pot of flowers.
brisk, as fire, flames, heat, etc.
  1. endowed with life.
  2. having a high degree of vigor, energy, or activity.
living persons:
the quick and the dead.
the tender, sensitive flesh of the living body, especially that under the nails:
nails bitten down to the quick.
the vital or most important part.
Chiefly British.
  1. a line of shrubs or plants, especially of hawthorn, forming a hedge.
  2. a single shrub or plant in such a hedge.
adverb, quicker, quickest.
cut to the quick, to injure deeply; hurt the feelings of:
Their callous treatment cut her to the quick.
Origin of quick
before 900; Middle English quik lively, moving, swift; Old English cwic, cwicu living; cognate with Old Saxon quik, German queck, keck, Old Norse kvikr; akin to Latin vīvus living (see vital), Sanskrit jivas living, Greek bíos life (see bio-), zoḗ animal life (see zoo-)
Related forms
quickness, noun
unquick, adjective
unquickly, adverb
unquickness, noun
Can be confused
fast, quick, rapid, swift (see synonym study at the current entry)
quick, quickly (see usage note at the current entry)
1. fleet, expeditious. Quick, fast, swift, rapid describe speedy tempo. Quick applies particularly to something practically instantaneous, an action or reaction, perhaps, of very brief duration: to give a quick look around; to take a quick walk. Fast and swift refer to actions, movements, etc., that continue for a time, and usually to those that are uninterrupted; when used of communication, transportation, and the like, they suggest a definite goal and a continuous trip. Swift, the more formal word, suggests the greater speed: a fast train; a swift message. Rapid, less speedy than the others, applies to a rate of movement or action, and usually to a series of actions or movements, related or unrelated: rapid calculation; a rapid walker. 5. abrupt, curt, short, precipitate. 7. nimble, agile, brisk. 10. See sharp.
1, 10. slow.
Usage note
The difference between the adverbial forms quick and quickly is frequently stylistic. Quick is more often used in short spoken sentences, especially imperative ones: Come quick! The chimney is on fire. Quickly is the usual form in writing, both in the preverb position (We quickly realized that attempts to negotiate would be futile) and following verbs other than imperatives (She turned quickly and left). See also slow, sure. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for quickest
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It's the easiest and quickest way out of the trouble for us, and the easiest and quickest way into trouble for them.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • He followed a youth who was the quickest afoot and the readiest laugher.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
  • It would be the quickest way of rejoining them, to get upon the white bull's back.

    Tanglewood Tales Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Nor are we right in supposing that the swiftest of them is the slowest, nor conversely, that the slowest is the quickest.

    Laws Plato
  • Hard words were the kindest in the end, because the quickest understood.

    The Heart of Thunder Mountain Edfrid A. Bingham
British Dictionary definitions for quickest


(of an action, movement, etc) performed or occurring during a comparatively short time: a quick move
lasting a comparatively short time; brief: a quick flight
accomplishing something in a time that is shorter than normal: a quick worker
characterized by rapidity of movement; swift or fast: a quick walker
immediate or prompt: a quick reply
(postpositive) eager or ready to perform (an action): quick to criticize
responsive to stimulation; perceptive or alert; lively: a quick eye
eager or enthusiastic for learning: a quick intelligence
easily excited or aroused: a quick temper
skilfully swift or nimble in one's movements or actions; deft: quick fingers
  1. alive; living
  2. (as noun) living people (esp in the phrase the quick and the dead)
(archaic or dialect) lively or eager: a quick dog
(of a fire) burning briskly
composed of living plants: a quick hedge
(dialect) (of sand) lacking firmness through being wet
(archaic) quick with child, pregnant, esp being in an advanced state of pregnancy, when the movements of the fetus can be felt
any area of living flesh that is highly sensitive to pain or touch, esp that under a toenail or fingernail or around a healing wound
the vital or most important part (of a thing)
short for quickset (sense 1)
cut someone to the quick, to hurt someone's feelings deeply; offend gravely
adverb (informal)
in a rapid or speedy manner; swiftly
soon: I hope he comes quick
a command requiring the hearer to perform an action immediately or in as short a time as possible
Derived Forms
quickly, adverb
quickness, noun
Word Origin
Old English cwicu living; related to Old Saxon quik, Old High German queck, Old Norse kvikr alive, Latin vīvus alive, Greek bios life
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 quickest



Old English cwic "living, alive, animate," and figuratively, of mental qualities, "rapid, ready," from Proto-Germanic *kwikwaz (cf. Old Saxon and Old Frisian quik, Old Norse kvikr "living, alive," Dutch kwik "lively, bright, sprightly," Old High German quec "lively," German keck "bold"), from PIE root *gweie- "to live" (see bio-). Sense of "lively, swift" developed by late 12c., on notion of "full of life."

NE swift or the now more common fast may apply to rapid motion of any duration, while in quick (in accordance with its original sense of 'live, lively') there is a notion of 'sudden' or 'soon over.' We speak of a fast horse or runner in a race, a quick starter but not a quick horse. A somewhat similar feeling may distinguish NHG schnell and rasch or it may be more a matter of local preference. [Buck]
Of persons, "mentally active," from late 15c. Also in Middle English used of soft soils, gravel pits, etc. where the ground is shifting and yielding (mid-14c., cf. quicksand). As an adverb from c.1300. To be quick about something is from 1937. Quick buck is from 1946, American English. Quick-change artist (1886) originally was an actor expert in playing different roles in the same performance of a show. Quick-witted is from 1520s.



"living persons," Old English cwic, from quick (adj.); frequently paired with the dead, e.g. Old English cwicum & deadum. The quick "tender part of the flesh" (under a nail, etc.) is from 1520s, as is the figurative use of it.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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quickest in Medicine

quick (kwĭk)
Sensitive or raw exposed flesh, as under the fingernails. adj. quick·er, quick·est

  1. Pregnant.

  2. Alive.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Idioms and Phrases with quickest
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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