quality (n.)

c. 1300, qualite, "temperament, character, disposition," from Old French calite, qualite "quality, nature, characteristic" (12c., Modern French qualité), from Latin qualitatem (nominative qualitas) "a quality, property; nature, state, condition" (said [Tucker, etc.] to have been coined by Cicero to translate Greek poiotēs), from qualis "what kind of a" (from PIE root *kwo-, stem of relative and interrogative pronouns).

In early use, and for long thereafter, with awareness of the word's use in Aristotelian philosophy. From late 14c. as "an inherent attribute," also "degree of goodness or excellence." Meaning "social rank, position" is c. 1400, hence "nobility, gentry." From 1580s as "a distinguished and characteristic excellence." 

Noun phrase quality time "time spent giving undivided attention to another person to build a relationship" is recorded by 1977. Quality of life "degree to which a person is healthy and able to participate in or enjoy life events" is from 1943. Quality control "maintenance of desired quality in a manufactured product" is attested from 1935.

updated on February 25, 2021

Definitions of quality from WordNet
quality (n.)
an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone; "the quality of mercy is not strained"--Shakespeare;
quality (n.)
a degree or grade of excellence or worth;
the quality of students has risen
Synonyms: caliber / calibre
quality (n.)
a characteristic property that defines the apparent individual nature of something;
each town has a quality all its own
Synonyms: character / lineament
quality (n.)
(music) the distinctive property of a complex sound (a voice or noise or musical sound);
Synonyms: timbre / timber / tone
quality (n.)
high social status;
a man of quality
quality (adj.)
of superior grade;
quality paper
Synonyms: choice / prime / prize / select
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.