[ kwits ]


  1. on equal terms by repayment or retaliation.


/ kwɪts /


  1. on an equal footing; even

    now we are quits

  2. call it quits
    to agree to end a dispute, contest, etc, agreeing that honours are even


  1. an exclamation indicating willingness to give up

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Word History and Origins

Origin of quits1

1470–80; perhaps < Medieval Latin quittus quit 1

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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Example Sentences

Following the release of Nine Types of Light, TV on the Radio thought long and hard about calling it quits.

I finish a decent game, type my initials, and decide to call it quits.

Rogozin also announced that Russia will call it quits with the International Space Station in 2020.

Eventually Megan quits her job to pursue acting, and this physical rift mirrors a widening emotional gap between the couple.

So she quits, and takes shelter in the northern Scotland woods, hoping to be left alone.

The wretched young man persistently exercises his right of crying "Banco," and so practically going double or quits each time.

So when the bunch got out quite a ways, I quits the camp an' swings round in a wide circle—an' sure enough they'd left their mark.

From that moment the house of Orleans was obliged to play double or quits: the event gave them the game.

The bear of the northern seas lives upon fish; he never quits the sea coasts, and even often inhabits the floating islands of ice.

Who is it that improves men an' makes thim more ladylike, an' thin quits thim, but th' ladies?


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More About Quits

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.

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.