A qualitative variable, also known as categorical variable, has features that can be names or labeled under a broad heading. When categorizing items the first step is to group these items broadly - for example, animals, plants, minerals. Under these broad categories there will be many possible subcategories that narrow the subject (i.e. Animal: Canines: Dogs: Breeds.) The more specific the traits being used for differentiation, the more qualitative variables become involved. An example of this is dogs. Dogs come in a plethora of breeds, all bred for specific purposes- poodles, German shepards, collies, etc. Each of these breeds represent a set of specific variables. In statistics there are also quantitative variables (hyperlink?) that involve numbers of the item involved.