Quality can refer to:
  1. A specific characteristic of an object (the qualities of ice - i.e. its properties)
  2. The achievement or excellence of an object (good quality ice - i.e. not of inferior grade)
  3. The essence of an object (the quality of ice - i.e. "iceness")
  4. The meaning of excellence itself

The first meaning is technical, the second practical, the third artistic, and the fourth metaphysical.


  • A quality is something capable of being completely embodied. A law never can be embodied in its character as a law except by determining a habit. A quality is how something may or might have been. A law is how an endless future must continue to be.
    • Charles Peirce, Collected Papers (lecture 3 of Lowell Lectures of 1903), vol. 1, para. 536, Harvard University Press (1934).

  • Admiration for a quality or an art can be so strong that it deters us from striving to possess it.
    • Friedrich Nietzsche, Mixed Opinions and Maxims, aphorism 370, “The Danger in Admiration,” (1879).

  • It is the quality of the moment, not the number of days, or events, or of actors, that imports.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Speech, January 1842, at the Masonic Temple in Boston, repr. in The Dial (1843) and Nature, Addresses, and Lectures (1849).

  • It’s the quality of the ordinary, the straight, the square, that accounts for the great stability and success of our nation. It’s a quality to be proud of. But it’s a quality that many people seem to have neglected.
    • Gerald Ford, Time (January 28, 1974)

  • Much of what passes for quality on British television is no more than a reflection of the narrow elite which controls it and has always thought that its tastes were synonymous with quality.
    • Rupert Murdoch, Address, 1989, to the Edinburgh Television Festival. quoted in Guardian (London, Jan. 1, 1990).

  • One cannot develop taste from what is of average quality but only from the very best.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Conversations with Eckermann (February 26, 1824).

  • One shining quality lends a lustre to another, or hides some glaring defect.
    • William Hazlitt, Complete Works, vol. 9, ed. P.P. Howe (1932). Characteristics, no. 162 (first published anonymously in 1823).

  • People of quality know everything without ever having learned anything.
    • Molière, Les Précieuses Ridicules, sc. 9 (1659).

  • So cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.
    • William S. Burroughs, The Western Lands, ch. 2 (1987).

  • Social improvement is attained more readily by a concern with the quality of results than with the purity of motives.
    • Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition, aph. 25 (1973).

  • The measure of your quality as a public person, as a citizen, is the gap between what you do and what you say.
    • Ramsey Clark, International Herald Tribune (Paris, June 18, 1991).

  • The quality of a man’s mind can generally be judged by the size of his wastepaper basket.
    • José Bergamín, La cabeza a pájaros (Head in the Clouds), p. 98, Madrid, Cruz y Raya (1934).

  • The quality of moral behaviour varies in inverse ratio to the number of human beings involved.
    • Aldous Huxley, Grey Eminence, ch. 10 (1941).

  • Things that have a common quality ever quickly seek their kind.
    • Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, ix. 9.

  • To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour.
    • Henry David Thoreau, The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 2, p. 100, Houghton Mifflin (1906).

  • To understand the true quality of people, you must look into their minds, and examine their pursuits and aversions.
    • Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, bk. 4, sct. 38 (trans. by Jeremy Collier).

  • "Customer (including myself) always ask for the sky, it is we (Vendor), who need to be their parachute & make them aware of ground reality."
    • Ashish Kerkar


  • Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.
    • William A. Foster

I have seen the above quote attributed to Vince Lombardi
  • Hey, man. It's quality, not quantity, alright man?
    • Ron Slater from the film Dazed and Confused

  • "If you can't be good, pick weak competition."
    • James O'Brien

  • "Six Sigma is mankind's greatest method for identifying bad ideas. Only bad ideas operate with zero defects."
    • Basil White
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