Word of the Day Archive
Thursday August 22, 2013
quincunx \KWING-kuhngks, KWIN-\
1. an arrangement of five objects, as trees, in a square or rectangle, one at each corner and one in the middle.
2. Botany. an overlapping arrangement of five petals or leaves, in which two are interior, two are exterior, and one is partly interior and partly exterior.
It must have been done with extraordinary taste and care, for there is not a bit of it which is not rarely beautiful. Sir Thomas Browne himself, for all his Quincunx, would have been delighted with it, and have found material for another “Garden of Cyrus."
-- Bram Stoker, The Lady of the Shroud, 1909
Light bathed the other inner flank and spilled out onto the bridge and along the wall that carried the leftway up to the gatehouse. Its face was studded with the cypher of the five-spot quincunx.
-- Ricardo Pinto, The Chosen, 1999
Quincunx comes from the Latin meaning "five twelfths." It has been part of English since the 17th century.