Word Confusion: Quiet vs Quit vs Quite

Posted November 13, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Ahh, the blissful quiet of the afternoon when I’m quite quit of all demands.

A quiet only a mother — or a writer on deadline — can appreciate.

Okay, okay, quit laughin’! Or at least be quiet with all the sniggering. It’s raising quite the uproar here at the office…

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Quiet Quit Quite
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: quite, quit, and quite

Four two-story houses along a curving street without a creature stirring, even the dog is asleep.

“A Quiet Street” by MichaelGG at English Wikipedia is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

An unusual quit smoking poster

“Quit Smokin'” is Abinkk’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Man shoveling a path in a long, long driveway

“Path Work” by h.koppdelaney is under the CC BY-ND 2.0 license, via VisualHunt.

Phew! That’s quite the job ahead of this guy.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective; Noun;
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun: quiet
Third person present verb: quiets
Past tense or past participle: quieted
Gerund or present participle: quieting

Adjective 1; Noun 1, 2;
Verb 1, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: quits
Past tense or past participle: quitted OR quit
Gerund or present participle: quitting

Adverb; Exclamation
Making little or no noise

  • [Of a place, period of time, or situation] Without much activity, disturbance, or excitement
  • Without being disturbed or interrupted
  • Free, or comparatively free, from noise


Carried out discreetly, secretly, or with moderation

  • [Of a person] Tranquil and reserved by nature
    • Not brash or forceful
  • [Attrib.] Expressed in a restrained or understated way or manner
  • [Of a color or garment] Unobtrusive
    • Not bright or showy

Being at rest

Refraining or free from activity, especially busy or vigorous activity

Absence of noise or bustle

  • Silence
  • Calm
  • Freedom from disturbance or interruption by others
  • A peaceful or settled state of affairs in social or political life

Verb, intransitive:
[Often followed by down] To become quiet

To cease from doing something

  • Stop

To give up or resign one’s job or position

To depart or leave

To stop trying, struggling, or the like

  • Accept or acknowledge defeat

Verb, transitive:
Make or become silent, calm, or still
To make tranquil or peaceful

  • Pacify

Make or become silent, calm, or still

To calm mentally, as a person

To allay tumult, doubt, fear, etc.

[Predic.; quit of] Rid of

  • Released from obligation, penalty, etc.
  • Free, clear

[In combination] Used in names of various small songbirds found in the Caribbean area 2

Verb, intransitive:
Leave (a place), usually permanently

  • [Informal] Resign from a job

Verb, transitive:
Leave (a place), usually permanently

  • [Informal] Resign from a job
  • [Informal, chiefly North American] Stop, cease, or discontinue (an action or activity)
  • Give up, let go
  • Relinquish

[Archaic with adverbial; quit oneself] Behave in a specified way

To stop, cease, or discontinue

To depart from, leave (a place or person)

To release one’s hold of (something grasped)

To acquit or conduct (oneself)

To free or rid (oneself)

To clear (a debt)

  • Repay
To the utmost or most absolute extent or degree

  • Absolutely
  • Completely
  • [US] Very
  • [US; used as an intensifier] Really

To a certain or fairly significant extent or degree

  • Fairly
  • Somewhat

In actuality

  • Truly

[British; also quite so] Expressing agreement with or understanding of a remark or statement

This is our quiet time, so you must all stop talking.

The car has a quiet, economical engine.

I was as quiet as I could be, but he knew I was there.

The street below was quiet, little traffic braving the snow.

All he wanted was a quiet drink.

We wanted a quiet wedding.

I’ll have a quiet word with him.

He saw them. His quiet, middle-aged parents dancing wildly at the bar.

Molly spoke with quiet confidence.

When you meet your future in-laws for the first time, consider wearing something quiet.

We must be as quiet as mice.

We do appreciate a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Be quiet!

The ringing of the telephone shattered the early morning quiet.

He understood her wish for peace and quiet.

After several months of comparative quiet, the scandal re-erupted in August.

Verb, intransitive:
Quiet down!

The journalists quieted down as Judy stepped onto the dais.

The rumble of the crowd quieted as the cortege drew past.

Verb, transitive:
Can you quiet the baby? Your dad’s trying to sleep.

We’d better quiet her with a dose of Valium.

There are ways of quieting kids down without resorting to violence.

I want to be quit of him.

Will we ever be quit of this debt?

At last, we’re quit of all further responsibilities.

The bananaquit is a small, active nectarivore.

Some of the grassquits include the Cuban grassquit, the sooty grassquit, the dull-colored grassquit, the yellow-faced grassquit, and the black-faced grassquit.

Verb, intransitive:
He quit as manager of struggling Third Division City.

He keeps threatening to quit.

They received notice to quit.

Verb, transitive:
He was ordered to quit the cabin.

She quit her job in a pizza restaurant.

Quit moaning!

I want to quit smoking.

Quit yourselves like men, and fight.

She quit what she was doing to help me paint the house.

They quit the city for the seashore every summer.

He quit his claim to the throne.

She quit herself well.

Thou must quit thyself of doubts.

He quitted the place hastily.

It’s quite out of the question.

Are you quite certain about this?

This is quite a different problem.

I quite agree.

Quite frankly, I don’t blame you.

“You’ve no intention of coming back?” “I’m quite sorry, but no, I have not.”

It’s quite warm outside.

I was quite embarrassed, actually.

She did quite well at school.

He’s quite an attractive man.

She hasn’t been seen for quite some time.

She was quite the thing in heels and stockings and lipstick.

He thought the bag was heavy, but it was quite light.

It’s quite the thing to do.

“I don’t want to talk about that now.” “Quite.”

Quite so.

Adjective: quieter, quietest, unquieted, unquieting
Adverb: quietly
Noun: quieter, quietness, quietude
Verb: quieten [mostly British]
Adjective: quit-rent, quittable, unquitted
Noun: quit-rent, quitclaim, quittance, quitter
Verb: quitclaim
History of the Word:
A Middle English noun that originally meant peace as opposed to war, it came via Old French and was based on the Latin quies, quiet- meaning repose, quiet. 1 Middle English in the sense of set free and is from the Old French quite (adjective), quiter (verb), both of which are from the Latin quietus, a past participle of quiescere meaning be still, which is from quies meaning quiet.

2 Mid-19th century and probably imitative.

Middle English from the obsolete adjective quite, as a variant of quit in terms of leaving.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

View of Dubrovnik Old Town at Night by Eric Hossinger is under the CC BY 2.0 license, via VisualHunt.

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