adjective; prefix; adverb

  • Having an apparent or partial resemblance

  • Bearing similar features to a thing without completely being that thing.


“Almost, but not quite.”

We’ve probably heard this disappointing phrase more than once in our lives. When your holiday cookies resembled seasonal foliage, your guests might have said they looked like quasi-Christmas trees. Or, the last time you went to the gym to use their Wi-Fi and your friends teasingly called you a quasi athlete. Sometimes we might think something is a veritable copy of something else, when it only really seems like it. We might get away with calling a large sofa a quasi bed, or a poodle a quasi guard dog, but, sometimes, there’s nothing that can compare to the real thing!

Quasi describes something that shares some or almost all elements with, but does not fully or actually represent, the object it is compared to. To a certain extent, a person or thing may resemble another, but in this case they do not have all of the characteristics to truly be one. Sometimes, the word quasi is connected to another word with a hyphen, creating a compound noun, but it is not necessary. When you’re not sure if something is definitive, or you need to clarify its supposed association, quasi gives you a little more leeway. A pair of shoes that are so worn that the sole is peeling off could be labeled as quasi-footwear, as long as they can stay on your feet! Quasi can also be used to signify near or partial likeness of something to another where the object is the best one to use for comparison.

In the legal world, some agreements that are written on official letterhead and require signatures but don’t include the terms and conditions, are called quasi contracts, as they share the basic outline of a full contract.

Because almost anything can partially look or feel like something else, quasi can also qualify adjectives. If you need to fix up your house for a party but don’t have time to properly sanitize, we bet your friends won’t notice if your bedroom is quasi clean (even if you only shoved your clothes under your bed). Even someone’s actions may or may not have dictionary-approved attributes: Many teenagers love to spend time on their phones in the midst of friends, making them seem like they are quasi socializing. If something is sort of like the thing named, quasi lets you see the relation without copying the word wholesale!

Example: Even though our family lived far away, they visited so often that it seemed as if they were quasi-neighbors!

Example: It was so noisy last night that Norma only quasi slept, closing her eyes for just a few hours.


The Latin word quasi was first used in the English language in the 15th century to aid in a comparison of two or more things. Originally derived from quam sí, which directly translated as “as if,” quasi was used to show very close connection between similar subjects. Today, the word functions in very much the same way. When something functions just as if it were something else, quasi tells us that they are almost a perfect match, aside from a few differing characteristics. Only within the last couple of centuries has the word been adopted more frequently as a hyphenated prefix to directly attach near likeness to the noun, adjective, or adverb of comparison.

In Literature

From Matthew Kelly’s The Rhythm of Life: Living Everyday with Passion and Purpose:

Too often in our modern culture, children are perceived as “nice to have” if you’ve got the time and the money and are prepared to suspend, or maybe even sacrifice, your career. Young couples today perceive the blessing of children not in relation to their true purpose, but rather in relation to their “quasi purpose” of financial independence.

Kelly confronts his readers’ misplaced sense of purpose by calling out some of their pseudo, or quasi, purposes that many strive for. He reminds his audience that children, most of all, should help us become better people with a worthy purpose instead of seen as rungs on the ladder to the goal of financial independence.

In Pop Culture

From The Washington Post’s Old Blu-ray disks could help make better solar panels:

Blu-ray disks get their vibrant hue from the microscopic structures etched into their surface — tiny pits that encode the movie's data. It turns out that nanoscopic pits and grooves can also make solar panels more efficient by increasing the light absorption of the material they're on. The best patterns for this are quasi-random — not so random as to absorb useless wavelengths across the spectrum of sunlight, but not so orderly that they only absorb a single wavelength.

In this excerpt, a new study has suggested that Blu-ray disks could become the material for energy efficient solar panels. Researchers have found that the almost, or quasi, haphazard etches in the disks are even better at absorbing light than the traditional panel design. So, if you watch enough movies, they could someday power your T.V…


  • When this is like that, but with a qualification, it is quasi that.

  • Need a new quasi hobby? Try drinking coffee!


Comparison, Likeness

Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of quasi. Did you use quasi in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.