'Quantum' in the sense of sometimes/off-and-on [quondam]


I was just watching an episode of Password Plus when this exchange happened.

< --- >

Host: Now we are… — a quantum good player?

< --- >

Host: Would you like to define that, quantum?

Guest: Sometimes!

Host: Oh, I see. Off-and-on.

< --- >

Thing is, I can't find that meaning listen anywhere. Wiktionary offers a close one: Of a change, sudden or discrete, without intermediate stages, but that's clearly not an exact match.

Can quantum be properly employed as an adjective to mean sometimes, on-and-off?

Edited to remove video link and quotation exceeding 4-sentence limit (Rule 4). Cagey, moderator
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  • PaulQ

    English - England

    As an adjective quantum should be restricted to matters concerning quantum theory
    1975 Nature 20 Mar. 223/3 The book is concerned mainly with electro~dynamics (both classical and quantum).
    1989 New Scientist 15 July 69/4 Conrad Schneiker..discusses the possibilities for implementing computation that is intrinsically quantum.

    Edit - missed the link - velisarius is correct - quandam, which does not mean "off and on": it means "formerly."
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    Thanks for the correction! Interestingly enough, according to the Wiktionary entry, 'quondam' only means
    'formerly' in English, but in Latin, it can mean either 'formerly' or 'sometimes'.

    I wonder how proscribed the latter is in English.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think the speaker meant he used to be a good player. A "sometime player" means "a former player". I am a sometime player of chess: I don't play any more.

    Edit: sometime - WordReference.com Dictionary of English - see the definitions for the adjective "sometime".

    I'm not very familiar with the use of the word in Latin, but that would be outside the scope of EO anyway. In English "quondam" can't mean "sometimes", since it's used as an adjective.
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