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

Historical Examples of quiddity

  • There you indeed appreciate the dead-alive city 'in all its quiddity.'

    A Day's Tour

    Percy Fitzgerald

  • Aristotle has thus shown how the Essence or Quiddity (τί ἐστι) may become known in this class of cases.


    George Grote

  • The suchness of being implies a previously existing being and quiddity.

  • I think that he is right, and that the profitable study of a man is the study which regards him as an oddity, not a quiddity.


    Walter Raleigh

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

British Dictionary definitions for quiddity


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

"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