Quads and Squads
A family of words ultimately derived from the Latin noun quadrus, meaning “a square,” pertain one way or the other to the number four. Here are those words, more or less common in English usage, and their definitions.
The most versatile, and most ubiquitous, of these terms is square, which refers to a shape with four equal sides and right angles; an area, structure, or formation in the shape of a square; a tool used to lay out or test right angles; the product of a number multiplied by itself; a conventional person; a meal as one of three traditional full meals served or eaten in the course of a day; an adjective meaning “fair” or “honest,” or “old-fashioned”; an adverb pertaining to those senses; and a verb meaning “cut square,” “regulate,” or “accord.”
The other words, and their definitions, follow:
escadrille: a unit of French aircraft equivalent to a squadron
quadrangle: an enclosure surrounded by buildings, or the building itself, or an area represented by one of a set of maps (abbreviated quad); also, synonymous with quadrilateral
quadrant: one quarter of a circle or other regular or nearly regular shape; also, a device for measuring altitude
quadraphonic: pertaining to four channels of sound
quadrat: a rectangular plot of land specified for study
quadrate: square or almost square; a specific type of cross in heraldry; a bone in the skull of birds and lizards; an adjective meaning “square” or “nearly square”; also, another word for quadratus (see below)
quadratic: referring to the use of squaring, or raising to the second power, in mathematics
quadratus: any of various roughly quadrilateral muscles
quadrennial: lasting four years or occurring every four years
quadricentennial: a four-hundred-year anniversary
quadriceps: a set of four leg muscles
quadrifid: divided into four parts (said of leaves, for example)
quadrilateral: a four-sided figure, including but not limited to squares and rectangles
quadrille: a square dance or a music for the dance; also, an equestrian exhibition involving four riders or groups of riders
quadrillion: the number represented with the numeral 1,000,000,000,000
quadripartite: consisting of four parts or shared by four parties
quadriplegic: a person paralyzed in all four limbs
quadrivium: the educational disciplines of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music, which were taught after the trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric; the two groups constitute the classical seven liberal arts
quadroon: a person who is one-fourth black
quadruped: a four-legged animal
quadruple: increased fourfold, or consisting of four components, or, as a noun, something that is quadruple
quadruplet: one of four offspring born as a result of one pregnancy, or a combination of four of a kind
quadruplex: consisting of four parts, such as a four-unit apartment building; also, a telegraphic system allowing two messages to be sent simultaneously in each direction
quadruplicate: multiply by four, or consisting of four parts
quod: British English slang for prison, perhaps from quadrangle, derived from the shape of a typical prison
squad: a unit of military personnel or athletes, or a group of people with a specific task
squadron: a unit of aircraft, of cavalry, or of navy vessels
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