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quidam, n.

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Frequency (in current use): 
Origin: A borrowing from Latin. Etymon: Latin quīdam.
Etymology: < classical Latin quīdam a certain (unspecified) person < quis   (indefinite pronoun) somebody, anybody (see quis pron.) + -dam, of uncertain origin. Compare Middle French, French quidam (noun) a certain individual (14th cent. as quidem), a person of no consequence (a1480).
N.E.D. (1902) gives the pronunciation as (kwəi·dăm) /ˈkwaɪdəm/.

  An unknown or unspecified individual; somebody; (also) a person of no consequence, a nobody.

1579   E. K. in Spenser Shepheardes Cal. Ep. Ded. Post-scr.   So many vnworthy Quidams, which catch at the garlond which to you alone is dewe.
1624   W. Bedell Copies Certaine Lett. xi. 143   Who were these quidams that laid hands on Scory?
a1641   R. Montagu Acts & Monuments (1642) 48   Some Individuum vagum, a certaine Quidam in the Clouds.
1792   T. Holcroft Anna St. Ives IV. lxxvii. 196   She singing a miserable ditty, a bead-roll of lamentable rhymes, strung together by this Quidam!—This Henley!
1800   tr. L. S. Mercier New Picture Paris I. xviii. 57   In this number [of assassins] we must comprehend the quidams, who, in the inside of the prison, had constituted themselves judges of the prisoners.
1832   Times 3 Sept. 3/3   If the doctrine of our English quidams be right, the French must be very short of brain.
1911   Daily Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica) 10 June 10/2   Capitalists..were reluctant to invest their money in a country described by some quidam to have been primitive and without social organization.
1986   D. Grambs (title)    Dimboxes, epopts, and other quidams.
2004   Edmonton (Alberta) Jrnl. (Nexis) 29 June c2   It's pretty risky to invite quidams from the audience, nameless strangers, onto the stage.

1579—2004(Hide quotations)

 

Derivatives

 

  quiˈdamity   n. rare namelessness; the condition of being referred to only as ‘somebody’; (also) an instance of referring to a person in this way.

1892   Athenæum 9 July 65/1   A retort lay ready to his hand more effective than any indulgence in quidam-ities.
1982   T. Tanner in J. B. Elshtain Family in Polit. Thought 110   Julie's father refuses to recognize Saint-Preux as having ‘a name’. Of course he does have one..but it is one that the father effectively nullifies by his withholding of ratification. He is forced into the ontological category of quidamity.
1987   Yale French Stud. No. 73. 182   ‘Robinson Crusoe, Where are you? Where have you been?’.. The first words the castaway teaches his parrot show that his personal geography, once established, will protect him from quidamity, from the dreadful namelessness of those permanently expelled from the fortress of civilization.

1892—1987(Hide quotations)

 

This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, December 2007).

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