Word Origin & History
c.1300, "one-fourth of anything," from O.Fr. quartier (12c.), from L. quartarius "fourth part," from quartus "fourth" (see quart
). Earliest sense is "parts of the body as dismembered during execution" (c.1300). Used of the moon from c.1400 and the hour from 1599. The coin
is peculiar to U.S., first recorded 1783. Meaning "region, locality" is from c.1300. Meaning "portion of a town" (identified by the class or race of people who live there) is first attested 1526. The verb meaning "to cut in quarters" is recorded from c.1430. Quarter days (1480), when rents were paid and contracts and leases began or expired, were, in England, Lady day (March 25), Midsummer day (June 24), Michaelmas day (Sept. 29), and Christmas day (Dec. 25); in Scotland, keeping closer to the pagan Celtic calendar, they were Candlemas (Feb. 2), Whitsunday (May 15), Lammas (Aug. 1), and Martinmas (Nov. 11). Quarter horse, bred strong for racing on quarter-mile tracks, first recorded 1834; quarterback (n.) in U.S. football is from 1879; the verb is first attested 1945. Monday morning quarterback originally was pro football player slang for sportswriters, attested from 1932.