Definition of quiddity in US English:



  • 1The inherent nature or essence of someone or something.

    • ‘He transcends the autobiographic into something quintessential, something close to the quiddity of experience.’
    • ‘Immanence should not be equated with essence, if by essence we mean a substratum of materiality inherent in things; a quality or quiddity to which all things can be reduced.’
    • ‘And so we need only consider these two works in order to discover his particular view of being, essence and quiddity that specifies his philosophical thinking.’
    • ‘For there is no knowledge of things insofar as they are external in effect, but insofar as their nature and quiddity is grasped by the mind.’
    • ‘This sort of Kantian ‘anthropology of right’ reflects a vision of the unspeakable quiddity of the individual, where we are forever unknown to ourselves and live on the surface of our being.’
    quintessence, soul, spirit, ethos, nature, life, lifeblood, core, heart, centre, crux, nub, nucleus, kernel, marrow, meat, pith, gist, substance, principle, central part, fundamental quality, basic quality, essential part, intrinsic nature, sum and substance, reality, actuality
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    1. 1.1 A distinctive feature; a peculiarity.
      ‘his quirks and quiddities’
      • ‘Imitating the great singers with full respect to their quiddities and idiosyncrasies isn't easy.’
      • ‘He occasionally quarrelled with his fellow justices over what he described as the ‘quirks and quiddities’ of the law.’
      • ‘She has her eye on a like void when she describes Shakespeare's fascination with ‘human variability,’ how he could ‘create all kinds of human grotesques out of quiddities of speech and mannerism.’’
      • ‘Particularity, idiosyncrasy, the quiddity of perceptual experience - these are the best things that abstract art can offer, in public as anywhere else.’
      • ‘In other words, the vocabulary of the philosophers obscures, willy-nilly, the intention of the Bible, which defines human beings not by their quiddities and qualities, but by their faith and hope.’
      • ‘That is, we might just slot the language into our existing mental frameworks with respect to language and thereby lose some of the quiddity of the language and the concepts it brings with it.’


Late Middle English: from medieval Latin quidditas, from Latin quid ‘what’.