I've found that word "quite" is used sometimes in the sense of "greatest extent" (or say absolute or complete sense) and sometimes "moderate extent" (or say somewhat or little sense) and taking the other sense than actual can cause misunderstanding as they stands for quite opposite sense.

So, How do I identify or the recognize which sense the word "quite" used in?

  • Quite is also tricky because it is used quite differently in American and British English.
    – user230
    Mar 18 '17 at 23:15

When used with an adjective or adjectival phrase

It means somewhat or to a degree when the adjective has gradual variability

It is quite warm
It is quite expensive 

It means completely or to the utmost when the adjective has no gradual variability

It is quite wrong
It is quite unacceptable


  • I think you might be putting the cart before the horse here. It's more a case of when "quite" means "somewhat", the following adjective has gradual variability in that context. And when it means "completely", the combination quite + adjective has no gradual variability. Think first about how you would normally interpret it is quite cold, then reassess that interpretation if I change it to until it is quite cold. Mar 18 '17 at 19:23
  • I have no idea what you are talking about. Coldness has degrees of variability. Quite cold means somewhat cold not absolutely freezing cold in both cases.
    – Chris M
    Mar 18 '17 at 19:37
  • If I say It is quite cold, you'd normally interpret that as meaning somewhat cold. But if I say Wait until it is quite cold, you'd normally interpret that as completely cold. This even applies to adjectives that we wouldn't usually think of as being capable of gradation, such as (until) they are quite dead. Mar 19 '17 at 14:38
  • But the point is that coldness is an adjective which has degrees of strength, it doesn't have a set value. With those type of adjectives the word quite also has degrees of intensity which can be interpreted from the context. Whereas with an adjective such as wrong, which has no variability, quite also has no variability.
    – Chris M
    Mar 19 '17 at 14:58

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