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[kat-er-foil, ka-truh-] /ˈkæt ərˌfɔɪl, ˈkæ trə-/
a leaf composed of four leaflets.
Architecture. a panellike ornament composed of four lobes, divided by cusps, radiating from a common center.
Origin of quatrefoil
1375-1425; Middle English < Middle French quatre four + -foil (as in trefoil)
Related forms
quatrefoiled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for quatrefoil
Historical Examples
  • In the heads of the smaller arches are quatrefoil openings decorated in the same way.

    The Cathedral Church of York A. Clutton-Brock
  • The tympanum of the large arch is pierced with a quatrefoil or trefoil.

    Scottish Cathedrals and Abbeys Dugald Butler and Herbert Story
  • Even this is not all; for on each medallion or panel its separate bas-relief is contained within a quatrefoil.

    The Story of Rouen Sir Theodore Andrea Cook
  • Here too are seen two quatrefoil openings for the reception of offerings.

  • The wall above the arches is pierced with a row of 'quatrefoil' openings, with deeply cut mouldings.

    Cheshire Charles E. Kelsey
  • In the traceries of the large upper windows, where the cusps are cut through as in the quatrefoil Fig.

  • The Keep, which is in plan like a quatrefoil, consisted of two storeys.

    Life in a Medival City Edwin Benson
  • The mullion flew asunder; a quatrefoil shifted a little, robbed of its support.

    Peccavi E. W. Hornung
  • Above this is an open gallery with very beautiful twisted pillars and quatrefoil piercing in the three arches.

    Cathedral Cities of Italy William Wiehe Collins
  • The aureola, when enveloping the whole body, is generally oval or elliptical in form, but is occasionally circular or quatrefoil.

British Dictionary definitions for quatrefoil


a leaf composed of four leaflets
(architect) a carved ornament having four foils arranged about a common centre, esp one used in tracery
Word Origin
C15: from Old French, from quatre four + -foil leaflet; compare trefoil
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for quatrefoil

"flower with four leaves," early 15c., from Old French quatrefoil, from quatre "four" (see four) + foil "leaf" (see foil (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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