[ kwits ]
/ kwɪts /
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on equal terms by repayment or retaliation.
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Idioms about quits

    call it quits,
    1. to end one's activity, especially temporarily: At 10 o'clock I decided to call it quits for the day.
    2. to abandon an effort.
    cry quits, to agree to end competition and consider both sides equal: It became too dark to continue play and they decided to cry quits.

Origin of quits

1470–80; perhaps <Medieval Latin quittusquit1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What else does quits mean?

If someone quits or calls it quits, they abruptly leave or give up on something, especially leaving a job, relationship, or game.

Where does quits come from?

As with very many English words, the verb quit goes back to Latin via French. The root, here, is quietus, meaning “free” of such encumbrances as debt or conflict. Quiet and quite are related.

Quit is recorded in the early 1200s when it variously meant “to pay” a fee, penalty, or debt (hence the old sense of quits for “on equal terms by repayment or retaliation.”) By the 1400s, quit, for “leave” or “abandon,” was established. Quitting a job is found by the 1600s, and the verb remains widely used in that context today.

People also call it quits when they agree to end a dispute or a contest (or perhaps an unhealthy relationship) on equal terms. (By the 1660s, the term quits was used as an adjective meaning “on equal footing,” or “even.”) More commonly these days, the term “to call it quits” is used when someone decides to abandon an effort or venture.

How is quits used in real life?

The word quit is fraught with drama. Whether you’re quitting a job or a grueling exercise routine, it’s usually due to struggle—as evidenced in the 2000s gaming expression to rage quit, used to describe when a gamer abruptly stops playing in a fit of emotional frustration. Young children may also issue a pouting I quit if they are fed up with losing in some game or play. Sometimes this use of quit is ironic and playful.

In American culture, quitting a job, partner, or venture can sometimes be viewed negatively, equating the quitter with failure. However, quitting often describes freeing oneself from toxic situations—perhaps as when an employee quits work with some sweary flair. Think, too, of a bad relationship (romantic or professional) which has gone on for far too long before both parties decide to call it quits.

More examples of quits:

“Teen quits his job at Walmart over intercom, tears into company over treatment of employees”
—Morgan Gstalter, The Hill (headline), December 2018


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

How to use quits in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for quits

/ (kwɪts) informal /

adjective (postpositive)
on an equal footing; evennow we are quits
call it quits to agree to end a dispute, contest, etc, agreeing that honours are even
an exclamation indicating willingness to give up
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