quiddity

[ kwid-i-tee ]
/ ˈkwɪd ɪ ti /

noun, plural quid·di·ties.

the quality that makes a thing what it is; the essential nature of a thing.
a trifling nicety of subtle distinction, as in argument.

Origin of quiddity

1350–1400; < Medieval Latin quidditās, equivalent to Latin quid what + -itās -ity
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for quiddity

British Dictionary definitions for quiddity

quiddity

/ (ˈkwɪdɪtɪ) /

noun plural -ties

philosophy the essential nature of somethingCompare haecceity
a petty or trifling distinction; quibble

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for quiddity

quiddity


n.

"a trifling nicety in argument, a quibble," 1530s, from Medieval Latin quidditas "the essence of things," in Scholastic philosophy, "that which distinguishes a thing from other things," literally "whatness," from Latin quid "what," neuter of indefinite pronoun quis "somebody, someone or other" (see who). Sense developed from scholastic disputes over the nature of things. Original classical meaning "real essence or nature of a thing" is attested in English from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper