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Commonly Confused Words: Quiet vs. Quite


What does each word mean?

  • As a noun and an adjective, the word quiet describes a lack of noise. As a verb, quiet refers something becoming less loud. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

    Here is quiet used in some example sentences:

    • The sea was calm, but he was worried it was quiet before the storm.

    • The library is usually quiet during the day, but it becomes noisier once school finishes.

    • She tried to quieten the crying baby.

    Click here for the Spellzone word lists which include the word quiet.

  • Quite is an adverb that shows the extent or degree to which something is the case. The word has different meanings depending on the context it is used in:

    1. to a degree (not used with a negative)

    2. to the greatest extent; completely.

    Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is quite used in some example sentences:

    • You are quite good at spelling, but I am better.

    • My teacher says spelling becomes easier the more you practise and I quite agree.

    • The seminar was, quite frankly, a waste of time.

Click here for all the Spellzone wordlists which include the word quite.

Where does each word come from?

Both quiet and quite date back to the fourteenth century.

  • Quiet comes from the Old French ‘quiete’ meaning ‘rest, repose, tranquillity’, which, in turn, comes directly from the Latin ‘quies’ meaning ‘a lying still, rest, repose, peace’.

  • Quite, on the other hand, has roots in the Middle English ‘quit’ meaning ‘free, clear’. Originally the word was used as a synonym for ‘thoroughly’, but from the mid-nineteenth century it also came to mean ‘fairly’.

Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between these words?

Both quiet and quite are featured in 'The Dirty Thirty' spelling list – a list of words so-often spelt wrong that it’s likely examiners will watching out for them while marking papers. Click here and here for tips on how to spell each of these thirty words.

  • Quiet: Understand It Ends Talking

  • Sometimes it is useful to think of words that rhyme with and are spelt similarly to the word you are trying to spell.
    Try imagining an embarrassed person saying, “Please keep quiet about my diet.

  • Think of something you hate and then say to yourself: “It is Quite Unbelievably Impossible To Enjoy ____.

  • Quite has the word quit in it: “I’m not quite ready to quit.

Where can I find other posts about easy-to-confuse words?

Sources: Online Etymology Dictionary.


16 Jun 2015
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