quiddity

When a politician avoids answering a question while pretending to answer it, he often does it using quiddity, or by bringing up irrelevant and distracting points.

Quiddity is a usefully sneaky tool if you want to evade an argument or question, and it's often used by people like lawyers in court and teenagers angling for later curfews. The noun quiddity has a philosophical meaning too, "the essential nature of something," or the unique thing that makes it what it is. The Medieval Latin root, quidditas, translates literally as "whatness."

Primary Meanings of quiddity

1.
n
the essence that makes something the kind of thing it is and makes it different from any other
2.
n
an evasion of the point of an argument by raising irrelevant distinctions or objections
Full Definitions of quiddity
1

n the essence that makes something the kind of thing it is and makes it different from any other

Synonyms:
haecceity
Type of:
center, centre, core, essence, gist, heart, heart and soul, inwardness, kernel, marrow, meat, nitty-gritty, nub, pith, substance, sum
the choicest or most essential or most vital part of some idea or experience
2

n an evasion of the point of an argument by raising irrelevant distinctions or objections

Synonyms:
cavil, quibble
Type of:
equivocation, evasion
a statement that is not literally false but that cleverly avoids an unpleasant truth

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