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Quasi vs. Pseudo: Meaning and Usage

There are numerous benefits to expanding your vocabulary, and learning and using new words can help with reading comprehension as well as communication. However, it is essential to fully understand the words you are using to ensure you use them correctly. “Pseudo” and “quasi” are two words that may seem similar and easy to understand, but they are quite different.

“Quasi” functions as an adjective and usually refers to having some degree of resemblance to someone or something else. “Pseudo” is an adjective we use to describe something or someone insincere and not completely genuine. In other words, “pseudo” can have the negative connotation of being fake.

This article will explore the word origin, part of speech, and definition of each word. We will then learn how we can use each term in sentences by recognizing the ways they function on their own and when we might use them interchangeably. 

Quasi vs. Pseudo

The terms “quasi” and “pseudo” have less in common than you might think. “Quasi” and “pseudo” differ in many ways, from their origins to how we use them in sentences. The definition of each word is unique to the term, which is important when using them to communicate. 

Origins

The origin of a word refers to where and how the word came to be. English derives many words from other languages, while it forms others through sound and semantic changes. 

The word “quasi” comes from the Latin quasi, meaning “as if; as it were.” The Latin form of “quasi” is presumably a combination of quam, “as,” and si, “if” (source).

The term “pseudo” has roots in both Greek and Latin. The Greek word pseudes, meaning “lying; false,” and the Latin word pseudo, “being apparently rather than as stated,” contributed to the derivation of the modern-day usage of “pseudo.” 

Parts of Speech

There are two types of words: content and function words. Content words include nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs and have meaning and definitions. 

Function words serve a purpose in sentences but do not have standard definitions. They create and maintain grammatical and structural relationships between content words. Pronouns, prepositions, and conjunctions are all examples of function words (source). 

“Quasi” and “pseudo” are both content words. We use both of these adjectives and prefixes for many words. Consider the following:

We considered Tim a quasi-coach because he offered so much assistance throughout the baseball season.

The pseudo experience of watching the live concert at home was nothing like seeing her favorite band play in person. 

Adjectives are words that describe or modify nouns and pronouns. Nouns name a person, place, thing, or idea. Prefixes are parts of words that we add to base words to form new terms with unique meanings. 

The Meanings of Quasi and Pseudo

Along with different origins, the words quasi and pseudo have distinctively different definitions. While not entirely dissimilar, these words each have distinct meanings.

What Does Quasi Mean?

As a quality, “quasi” refers to being in the state of closely resembling a person, place, thing, or idea. The resemblance is usually tied to certain attributes. “Quasi” does not mean “exact” but, instead, means similar to without being the same as (source).

Less commonly, quasi has a legal use as well. If a document or degree is considered quasi, then it can be invoked in a situation without an overt agreement.

Sara’s friends considered her quasi-independent; she had a career and a home but still dipped into her trust fund to cover extra expenses.

Even though he knew his friend didn’t intend to be mean, Evan’s remark still struck him as a quasi-hurtful thing to say.

What Does Pseudo Mean?

Lexicographers define “pseudo” as a person, place, thing, or idea that is false or insincere. We may use pseudo to describe something or someone who is apparently one way or the other instead of actually so (source). 

While the definition of “quasi” means having similar characteristics, “pseudo” means using potentially insincere and contrived methods of deceit to appear a certain way. In this way, they are entirely their own words.

The pseudoscientist believed both his beliefs and teaching methods were superior without having the science or facts to back it up.

The pseudo-castle could not fool Elizabeth; she had certain ideas for her wedding celebration, and this Cinderella wannabe cottage was not high on her list.

Quasi and Pseudo Synonyms 

Seeing how synonyms can take the place of keywords in a sentence can help form a complete picture of the full meaning of the word.

The quasi-medicine seemed to work just as well as the over-the-counter options.
The similar medicine seemed to work just as well as the over-the-counter options.
The alleged medicine seemed to work just as well as the over-the-counter options.

The pseudo-wood planks almost fooled the prospective buyer into thinking they were the original hardwood floors. 
The artificial wood planks almost fooled the prospective buyer into thinking they were the original hardwood floors. 
The phony wood planks almost fooled the prospective buyer into thinking they were the original hardwood floors. 

Grammar Summary

Please use the following table as a reference for the grammatical components of the words quasi and pseudo. We also included synonyms and antonyms for each word.

WordOriginPart of SpeechDefinitionSynonymsAntonyms
quasiLatin, quasiadjectivePossessing similar attributes to someone or something else

Having legal standing by the nature of the law instead of a specific situation
apparent
alleged
partial
reported
seemingly
similar
somewhat
sort of
supposed
actual
authentic
real
pseudoGreek, pseudes
Latin, pseudo
adjectiveThe quality or state of being seemingly accurate without being provenartificial
bogus
false
feigned
fraudulent
mock
phony
spurious
sham
genuine 

Word Replacement 

Synonyms are words that mean the same, as we can use others interchangeably in sentences. Since “quasi” and “pseudo” are not synonyms, they are not suitable substitutions for each other when writing. 

“Quasi” refers to someone or something having similar attributes to another, while “pseudo” people, places, and things are often artificial or fraudulent.

Consider the next set of sentences when determining whether or not to replace one word with another.

After the tornado, we considered the clean-up a quasi-emergency because more storms were rolling in soon.

Replacing “quasi” with “pseudo” would change the meaning of quasi-emergency from an almost emergency to a made-up one. The sentence and the definition of the word change completely.

The pseudo-religion was more like a cult, having its roots in the worship of its leader instead of adherence to spiritual beliefs.

Changing “pseudo” to “quasi” would make pseudo-religion a seemingly real type of religion instead of a fraudulent one.

Replacing one word with a similar word may seem like a simple way to switch up word choice, but it is essential to understand the meanings of the words before using them interchangeably. 

Another example is the words “reliable” and “dependable.” Although they are similar words, they do not mean the exact same thing. For more information on these words, please read the article “Reliable vs. Dependable: Which One Should I Use?

How to Use Quasi

Knowing when and how to use a term in a sentence can sometimes be a bit tricky, particularly if the word is new or unfamiliar. You can start practicing how to integrate “quasi” in your own sentences after learning its conceptual uses.

Linguistically

As stated before, “quasi” is an adjective. As an adjective, we can use it alone to modify a noun or attach it to another adjective to form an adjective phrase. 

When we use it as a stand-alone adjective, we need no hyphen between the word “quasi” and its noun, but many people use one.

quasi industry or quasi-industry

quasi organism or quasi-organism

 If we use it in an adjective phrase, we almost always include hyphens to connect the terms. 

quasi-happy

quasi-melancholy 

Scientifically

We use “quasi” to describe terms in both natural and social sciences. Quasi-experiments describe a form of research usually in the humanities, psychology, and sociology. 

In traditional experiments, they randomly assign groups to show a connection between dependent and independent variables. Quasi-experiments have groups assigned based on certain criteria. 

For example, to prove a connection between groups of students and hours of homework completed, traditional experiments would assign students to random groups. In a quasi-experiment, student groups are assigned based on schools attended, age of students, or geographical characteristics. 

Quasi in Politics and News

The International News Service v. Associated Press case ruled in favor of “quasi-property rights” where people and companies have rights to abstract properties, such as research design, to which they have devoted time, effort, and money.

In an article on the late Anthony Bourdain, many classify his writing style as “quasi-journalistic” due to his use of food as a medium. He used food “to explore other cultures and tell emotionally affecting — and often politically probing — human stories” (source). 

Examples of Usage in Current Events

We can use “quasi” to explain current events when we use it to describe similar characteristics to someone or something else. 

Many Americans hope that with COVID vaccines becoming readily accessible to more people, our country can start moving to a quasi-normal state of living. 

In this example, quasi-normal refers to an almost normal life.

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament took place in a quasi-glass box, as players and games were only accessible to fans outside the arenas. 

Here, a quasi-glass box means spectators were able to see the tournament but not fully experience it. 

How to Use Pseudo

The proper way to use a term in a sentence can sometimes be a bit tricky, particularly if the word is new or unfamiliar. You can start practicing how to integrate “quasi” in your own sentences after learning its conceptual uses.

Linguistically

Like “quasi,” we use “pseudo” to modify a noun or join another adjective to form an adjective phrase. Again, hyphens are common but not necessary between “pseudo” and its noun.

pseudo religion or pseudo-religion

pseudo prophet or pseudo-prophet

 If we use it in an adjective phrase, hyphens usually bring together the two adjectives.

pseudo-democratic

pseudo-romantic 

Scientifically

Some tout pseudosciences as being types of true science when they are based on unsubstantiated claims, do not rely on the scientific method, and scientists have not subjected them to evaluation. 

Part of the scientific theory taught in schools focuses on distinguishing between scientific facts and beliefs. Many consider creation theories, denial of climate change, and alchemy as pseudosciences. 

Quasi and Pseudo in Politics and News

Politicians, who were not initially a part of the event, can misconstrue the facts and figures when highly publicized events occur.

In the case of controversial events, some politicians may insert themselves into the situation by expressing their beliefs and opinions without having first-hand experience. Instead of receiving unfiltered news, many people instead receive access to these pseudo-events. 

Pseudo-reviews refer to consumer reviews someone has written for profit or marketing purposes. Retailers and websites require sellers only to elicit genuine reviews, but sometimes they pad product ratings with paid reviews. Since these reviews are not genuine nor for transparent purposes, they consider these as pseudo-reviews.

Examples of Usage in Current Events

We can use the term “pseudo” to add color to current event news stories when meaning seemingly, but not actually truthful.

The economic impact of COVID has affected both present and future finances; the lust for spending has many experiencing a sense of pseudo-wealth.

We might consider the belief that one will experience a surge in wealth as having pseudo-wealth. 

Many people are looking forward to the day when COVID restrictions lift to spend the perceived wealth they will experience.

Some people consider the last presidential election to be pseudo-news and marred by political and personal agendas.

In this sentence, pseudo-news describes a news story that did not necessarily happen the way the media portrayed it because biases and political platforms may have used filters.

Final Thoughts

Finding colorful synonyms to spice up one’s writing can be fun and help to expand your vocabulary. However, understanding the true meanings of words is essential to learning how to use them correctly. 

After learning about the differences between the words “quasi” and “pseudo,” you should feel comfortable using each one in your own writing. Keep in mind the definition for each word and similar words that can work as replacements. 

Idiom vs. Metaphor: How They Are Different?

Saturday 1st of May 2021

[…] more examples where we contrast word meanings, take a look at a couple of our articles: “Quasi vs. Pseudo” or “Mild vs. […]

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