Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Today's Word: Quincunx

You knew there had to be a word for the pattern of five objects arranged like the dots on the "5" side on dice, didn't you? It's quincunx (KWIN-kunks), from the Latin for "five-twelfths." As crossword fanatics know, an as was a coin of ancient Rome. Another Roman coin, the quincunx, was worth five-twelfths that much, and bore that five-dot pattern. Quincunx is from Latin quinque, "five" and uncia, "twelfth" (a relative of English inch), and applies to anything so arranged.

2 Comments:

Anonymous daz said...

I'd known of quincunx, but hadn't known it originally meant five-twelfths.

Five is clear, but why twelfths?

11:43 PM  
Anonymous daz said...

Oops! I just read Martha's post more carefully and this is fully explained.

11:56 PM  

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