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I've just seen a line of text warning of a systems upgrade that says: "...applications that utilize [the system] will be quieted on..."

Leaving aside the -ize suffix on "utilize", I would have said "...applications that utilize the system will be quiesced on..."

Somewhat maddeningly the original text doesn't explain how the applications will be quieted, whether they have a quiet mode, or what attributes they have that enable them to be quieted, but I would infer from the context that there's some command or set of commands that can be issued that will perform said quieting.

I've looked both words up in Wiktionary but am still at a loss to know if both words are interchangeable or if one usage is more correct than the other.

Here are the Wiktionary definitions:

quiet:

  1. To become quiet, silent, still, tranquil, calm.
  2. To cause someone to become quiet.

quiesce:

  1. Become quiet or quieter.
  2. To make temporarily inactive or disabled.

(Interestingly the browser puts a red squiggly under quiesced)

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    Neither sounds normal to me. But I don't even know what you mean by this. What actually happens to these applications? Can you please describe it in more detail, so we can help you find the right verb? – herisson Mar 9 '16 at 16:03
  • What @sumelic said. I've no idea what it would mean to (transitively) quiesce or quiet an "application", but in a more accessible context I might just about tolerate Your dog's constant barking is driving me nuts! Can't you quieten it? – FumbleFingers Mar 9 '16 at 16:21
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    ... I've just recalled that some software applications may support a "quiet mode" configuration setting or command-line switch, meaning that the app won't display messages or pause to await user input/confirmation. Is that the intended sense here? @noonand - please edit the question text to clarify. – FumbleFingers Mar 9 '16 at 16:23
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    This isn't English, this is UI-speak. Different thing. – Colin Fine Mar 9 '16 at 16:46
  • The natural verb would be muted or silenced. – curiousdannii Mar 10 '16 at 5:34
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I am not familiar with this topic, so my answer is mainly based on the general, ordinary meanings of these terms.

I would not use the word quiesce. For one thing, it's very rare, which is probably why your spellchecker doesn't recognize it. Take a look at this Google Ngram graph:

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For another thing, I've never seen quiesce used transitively (with a direct object). This transitive definition is not listed by the Oxford English Dictionary, which defines quiesce as

  1. intr. To become quiescent; to subside into.
  2. intr. Grammar. Of a letter, esp. a consonant: to become silent. Chiefly with reference to certain Semitic languages, esp. Hebrew.

The verb "quiet" is used fairly often as a transitive verb meaning "to make quiet" (see the Merriam Webster definition) so I would say it is the better choice out of these two words.

That said, it seems that transitive "quiesce" is an established term in some jargons, as it's mentioned in this question: Quiescing a Database. The term seems to be based on a "Quiesce" command that exists for some operating systems; I don't know who came up with this terminology originally. You'd have to ask someone who understands this technical field whether there is some distinction between "quiet" and "quiesce" in this context.

Here's a Language Log post on transitive quiesce that might be of interest: Annals of transitivization?

  • Ref "in some jargons", that's one of the places I'd have noticed it also when looking at reviews of Windows 7, one said (and I'm paraphrasing here) One of the most noticeable things compared to Vista is that the hard disk quiesces almost immediately after boot – noonand Mar 10 '16 at 11:12

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