Can I use the word 'quiet' as a verb in BrE (as opposed to N. American)? If I can, how is it conjugated?

The phrase I am looking to write is, "I wish to quiet my mind".

Should it be 'quieten'? That sounds incorrect.

Many thanks

  • And someone should coin enquiet, bequiet,... – Drew Jan 23 '19 at 15:37

You can use either quieten or quiet in BrE (British English), whereas quiet would usually be used in AmE (American English).

First, quieten and quiet are two distinct verbs. Quieten is a later invention: the Oxford English Dictionary gives an example from 1759. It is formed from the adjective quiet plus the suffix -en, which creates a verb from an adjective and means, more or less, to make quiet. (Other formations with -en include moisten, harden, and darken.) Quieten is chiefly British, as Merriam-Webster points out, and is regular in conjugation - quietened, quietening, and so on.

Quiet as a verb comes from Middle English. It is regular in formation: quiet, quieted, and quieting. The word is largely interchangeable with quieten, and its usage is broad. Only two meanings are marked as dialect-specific in the OED:

  1. intransitive. Now chiefly N. Amer. To become quiet; to quieten. Frequently with down.

  2. transitive. Chiefly Law (U.S. in later use). To settle or establish the fact of ownership of (a title, etc.); to settle or establish (a person, company, etc.) in quiet enjoyment or possession of land or property (chiefly in passive).

The other meanings of quiet (to calm or subdue, to make quiet) are available to everyone.

So yes, if you wish to quiet your mind on this question, you may.

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