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.


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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