[ kwid-i-tee ]
See synonyms for quiddity on Thesaurus.com
noun,plural quid·di·ties.
  1. Also called what·ness [hwuht-nis, wuht‐] /ˈʰwʌtˌnɪs, ˈwʌt‐/ . the quality that makes a thing what it is; the essential nature of a thing.

  2. a trifling nicety of subtle distinction, as in argument.

Origin of quiddity

First recorded in 1350–1400; from Medieval Latin quidditās, equivalent to Latin quid “what” + -itās noun suffix; see -ity

Words Nearby quiddity

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use quiddity in a sentence

  • Next came the redoubtable Mr. Mumbles himself, leading Mrs. Mumbles by the hand, preceded by the young lawyer quiddity.

  • On the next interview Mr. Mumbles, delighted with the report of quiddity, addressed him with truly dignified solemnity.

  • The lawyer's clerk, whose name was quiddity, also set about publishing the whole of the matter abroad.

  • Whatness and affections (quiddity) of being distinguishes between, ii.

    Plotinos: Complete Works, v. 4 | Plotinos (Plotinus)
  • Nature herself is maya; natural science must perforce deal with her ineluctable quiddity.

    Autobiography of a YOGI | Paramhansa Yogananda

British Dictionary definitions for quiddity


/ (ˈkwɪdɪtɪ) /

nounplural -ties
  1. philosophy the essential nature of something: Compare haecceity

  2. a petty or trifling distinction; quibble

Origin of quiddity

C16: from Medieval Latin quidditās, from Latin quid what

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