Did someone say they were going to ‘quote a price’ for you, and you’re wondering what it means?
In brief, to ‘quote a price’ means to give an estimate regarding the cost of a service or a product.
To ‘quote a price’ for something means to give an estimated cost for a product or a service of some kind. Sometimes, a noun or a pronoun is used in order to indicate who is receiving the price estimate. This noun or pronoun is placed in between the words “quote” and “a”– for example, a boss at a landscaping company could say, “will you ‘quote the customer a price’ before the end of the day?”
As we look at the meanings of the primary words in the phrase– ‘quote’ and ‘price’– we see that this is a very straightforward phrase in its meaning.
There are a number of definitions for the word ‘quote.’ The one that is relevant to this particular phrase is “give someone (the estimated price of a job or service).”
As you can see, the meaning of ‘quote’ in this usage is quite similar to the meaning of the phrase ‘quote a price.’ This means that you can actually use them nearly interchangeably.
For example, let’s say you need to hire a painter to paint the outside of your house. You might have a few different companies come by your property to give you an estimate of how much it will cost to provide the service.
In this instance, when you call each company, you could say either of the following:
The word ‘price’ also has several meanings. The most relevant definition is a noun form of the word, meaning “the amount of money required, expected, or given in payment for something.”
Essentially, when someone says ‘quote a price,’ they are saying, “tell someone the amount of money required for something.”
The word ‘quote’ dates back to the late fourteenth century with the meaning "to mark or annotate (a book) with chapter numbers or marginal references.” This definition is obsolete these days. It comes from the Old French word coter and the Medieval Latin word quotare which carried the definition of "distinguish by numbers, mark off into chapters and verses.”
The meaning of 'quote' which is “to give as a reference, to cite as an authority,” comes from the 1570s, and the definition of “to copy out or repeat exact words” appeared about one hundred years later. Around the same time, it was also used to mean “inclose within quotation marks” in writing and printing. The first use of the word spelled with qu– rather than c– dates to the early 1400s.
The use of the word ‘quote’ that is relevant to the phrase ‘quote a price’– “to state the price of a commodity”– doesn’t appear until 1866. This use of the word, in this way, fascinatingly revives the etymological meaning of “distinguish by numbers.”
The word 'price' is quite old, believed to date back to around 1200. It comes from the word pris, which first meant “worth, non-monetary value; praise” and later took on the meaning of “prize, reward, recompense.”
By the mid-13th century, it held the meaning of "sum or amount of money which a seller asks or obtains for goods in the market.”
When looking at the Google Books Ngram Viewer, we see an interesting usage history of the phrase. It began to get more popular after 1860 and really popped in the 1880s before dipping down again. Around 1900, usage started becoming much more common before peaking and beginning to decline in the 1920s until the present day.
How would you use 'quote a price' in a sentence? Let’s take a look at some examples.
Are you on a roll learning new English words and phrases? Make sure you check out our idioms blog for more expressions and idioms!