• synonyms


adjective, quaint·er, quaint·est.
  1. having an old-fashioned attractiveness or charm; oddly picturesque: a quaint old house.
  2. strange, peculiar, or unusual in an interesting, pleasing, or amusing way: a quaint sense of humor.
  3. skillfully or cleverly made.
  4. Obsolete. wise; skilled.
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Origin of quaint

1175–1225; Middle English queinte < Old French, variant of cointe clever, pleasing ≪ Latin cognitus known (past participle of cognōscere; see cognition)
Related formsquaint·ly, adverbquaint·ness, noun



Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for quaintly

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • "In his own parish in particular," quaintly added John Effingham.

    Homeward Bound

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • He discovered her quaintly with a jar of pickled frogs in her hand.

    The Innocent Adventuress

    Mary Hastings Bradley

  • There were tables and chairs of earth-style, quaintly old-fashioned.

    The World Beyond

    Raymond King Cummings

  • "Troth, you're the only gentleman of my acquaintance," said Freney, quaintly.

  • “Verily I guessed so much, for his eyes be in your head,” said Barbara quaintly.

    Clare Avery

    Emily Sarah Holt

British Dictionary definitions for quaintly


  1. attractively unusual, esp in an old-fashioned stylea quaint village
  2. odd, peculiar, or inappropriatea quaint sense of duty
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Derived Formsquaintly, adverbquaintness, noun

Word Origin

C13 (in the sense: clever): from Old French cointe, from Latin cognitus known, from cognoscere to ascertain
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

Word Origin and History for quaintly



c.1200, cointe, "cunning, ingenious; proud," from Old French cointe "knowledgeable, well-informed; clever; arrogant, proud; elegant, gracious," from Latin cognitus "known, approved," past participle of cognoscere "get or come to know well" (see cognizance). Modern spelling is from early 14c.

Later in English, "elaborate, skillfully made" (c.1300); "strange and clever" (mid-14c.). Sense of "old-fashioned but charming" is first attested 1795, and could describe the word itself, which had become rare after c.1700 (though it soon recovered popularity in this secondary sense). Related: Quaintly; quaintness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper