[kwawr-ter-staf, -stahf]
noun, plural quarterstaves [kwawr-ter-steyvz] , quarterstaffs.
a former English weapon consisting of a stout pole 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) long, tipped with iron.
exercise or fighting with this weapon.

1540–50; quarter + staff1

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World English Dictionary
quarterstaff (ˈkwɔːtəˌstɑːf)
n , pl -staves
1.  a stout iron-tipped wooden staff about 6ft long, formerly used in England as a weapon
2.  the use of such a staff in fighting, sport, or exercise
[C16: of uncertain origin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

c.1550, stout pole, six to eight feet long, tipped with iron, formerly a weapon used by the Eng. peasantry. The exact sense of quarter is uncertain here; it may be from a tree of a certain size cut into quarters.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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