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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
  • Above each of the squinches is a quatrefoil window cut into the drum allowing light into the dome area.
  • The fountain below, with a jet on each side, empties into a quatrefoil-shaped basin.
  • The remaining seven plates contain quatrefoil broached tube holes.
  • The quatrefoil tube supports were also more resistant to corrosion, being made of stainless steel.
  • The pulpit itself is an ornate wooden furnishing with turned work and quatrefoil appliques.
  • Below the frieze decorative triangular scrollwork with a quatrefoil motif flank each of the posts.
  • Decorative wood cresting at the roofs of the window bays are articulated with quatrefoil tracery.
  • Note the quatrefoil windows on either side of the lower bay as well as the paired cameo windows at the second level.
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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