Etymology: Middle English qualite, from Anglo-French qualité, from Latin qualitat-, qualitas, from qualis of what kind; akin to Latin qui who — more at who
Date: 14th century
a. peculiar and essential character ; nature <her ethereal quality — Gay Talese> b. an inherent feature ; property <had a quality of stridence, dissonance — Roald Dahl> c. capacity, role <in the quality of reader and companion — Joseph Conrad> 2. a. degree of excellence ; grade <the quality of competing air service — Current Biography> b. superiority in kind <merchandise of quality> 3. a. social status ; rank b. aristocracy 4. a. a distinguishing attribute ; characteristic <possesses many fine qualities> b. archaic an acquired skill ; accomplishment 5. the character in a logical proposition of being affirmative or negative 6. vividness of hue 7. a. timbre b. the identifying character of a vowel sound determined chiefly by the resonance of the vocal chambers in uttering it 8. the attribute of an elementary sensation that makes it fundamentally unlike any other sensation Synonyms: quality, property, character, attribute mean an intelligible feature by which a thing may be identified. quality is a general term applicable to any trait or characteristic whether individual or generic <material with a silky quality>. property implies a characteristic that belongs to a thing's essential nature and may be used to describe a type or species <the property of not conducting heat>. character applies to a peculiar and distinctive quality of a thing or a class <remarks of an unseemly character>. attribute implies a quality ascribed to a thing or a being <the traditional attributes of a military hero>. II. adjective Date: 1936 being of high quality
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.