tertium quid

[ tur-shee-uh m kwid; Latin ter-ti-oo m kwid ]
/ ˈtɜr ʃi əm ˈkwɪd; Latin ˈtɛr tɪˌʊm ˈkwɪd /


something related in some way to two things, but distinct from both; something intermediate between two things.

Nearby words

  1. tertiary colour,
  2. tertiary consumer,
  3. tertiary dentin,
  4. tertiary structure,
  5. tertiary syphilis,
  6. tertullian,
  7. teruel,
  8. tervalent,
  9. terylene,
  10. terza rima

Origin of tertium quid

1715–25; < Latin, translation of Greek tríton·ti some third thing

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for tertium quid

tertium quid

/ (ˈtɜːtɪəm ˈkwɪd) /


an unknown or indefinite thing related in some way to two known or definite things, but distinct from boththere is either right or wrong, with no tertium quid

Word Origin for tertium quid

C18: from Late Latin, rendering Greek triton ti some third thing

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 tertium quid

tertium quid


1724, Latin, literally "third something," loan-translation of Greek triton ti (Plato), used in alchemy for "unidentified element present in a combination of two known ones."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper