Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adv. To the greatest extent; completely: quite alone; not quite finished. See Usage Note at perfect.
  • adv. Actually; really: I'm quite positive about it.
  • adv. To a degree; rather: quite soon; quite tasty.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adv. To the greatest extent or degree; completely, entirely.
  • adv. In a fully justified sense; truly, perfectly, actually.
  • interj. Indicates agreement; "exactly so".
  • n. A series of passes made with the cape to distract the bull.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adv. Completely; wholly; entirely; totally; perfectly
  • adv. To a great extent or degree; very; very much; considerably.
  • v. See quit.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • An obsolete form of quit.
  • Completely; wholly; entirely; totally; fully; perfectly.
  • To a considerable extent or degree; noticeably: as, quite warm; quite pretty; quite clever; quite an artist: in this sense now chiefly colloquial and American.
  • An obsolete form of quit.
  • An obsolete dialectal form of white.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adv. actually or truly or to an extreme
  • adv. of an unusually noticeable or exceptional or remarkable kind (not used with a negative)
  • adv. to the greatest extent; completely
  • adv. to a degree (not used with a negative)

Etymologies

Middle English, from quite, clear, free, from Old French, from Latin quiētus, freed; see quiet.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
A development of quit, influence by Anglo-Norman quite. (Wiktionary)
From Spanish quite. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • See succinct summary on adverbs of degree.

    May 5, 2010

  • Quite has always seemed like a very proper, classic "British" word to me.

    June 20, 2009

  • Thank you all, Wordies!

    September 22, 2008

  • Excellent, yarb.

    September 22, 2008

  • Quite so, rolig.

    Quite can mean somewhat, to a certain extent, partially, i.e. not entirely - e.g, a movie which was "quite good" would be 6/10; something which is "quite important" would be the second or third thing you do; if you were not quite ready, you would be ready soon.

    Also, quite can mean "entirely". In this sense it's almost never heard in North America (in my experience). For example, "I've had quite enough of your unpleasantness" = "I've had enough!", or "that meal was quite exquisite" = "that meal was as exquisite as could be". This is fairly common in the UK (and presumably other English-speaking countries).

    "Quite so" = "exactly so, yes, you're right, I agree 100%".

    Quite can also be deprecatory. If something was expected to be good, and you describe it afterwards as "quite good", you're slighting it. E.g. "So - what did you think of Madonna tonight?" "Oh, yes. She was quite good". = She was actually pretty average.

    Finally, "quite the something" means "very much that something:

    "'Quite' is quite a confusing word" = it's more confusing than most words.

    "'Quite' is quite the confusing word" = it's a very confusing word - more so than most!

    September 22, 2008

  • In the negative - "not quite" - always means "not entirely" or "almost entirely" (as opposed to "not at all"). Personally, I think I use "quite" to mean both "to a certain degree (more than a little)" and "utterly", depending on the context:

    "The movie was quite good." "She did quite well on her exam." (In both cases, this means better than merely good but not excellent.)

    "Now that's quite interesting!" "You're quite wrong about that!" (Here it means "completely".)

    But the use of "quite" as a response to mean, "I agree with you" is non-U.S. (i.e. British and Canadian, in my experience):
    – "I think we'll have to discuss this later."
    – "Yes, quite."

    Although I am an American, I haven't lived in the States for about 8 years, watch a lot of British TV, and spent my late 20s and early 30s in Toronto, so I really don't know what my "native" speech is anymore.

    September 22, 2008

  • Is there a difference in the way this word is used among different English-speaking countries? (def. 1 vs def. 2)

    September 21, 2008