Quincunx

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Dr. Goodword
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Quincunx

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:27 pm

• quincunx •


Pronunciation: kwin-kênks• Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: An arrangement of five objects so that four form the corners of a square and the fifth marks the center (see the illustration).
Image
Notes: I had to include this bizarre little word in our series as a curiosity—a real word but curiously spelled and pronounced. A quincunx is a quincuncial (the adjective) arrangement of items that are arranged quincuncially (the adverb). A quincuncial arrangement is often repeated, especially in planting trees in an orchard, leaving the impression of diagonal rows, as in the illustration to the left.

In Play: A quincunx may be part of a decorating scheme: "Gay LaVente placed the candles in a perfect quincunx on the table as though they had some sort of secret meaning to her." It is also a farming tool: "Lynn Seed laid out her entire garden in overlapping quincunxes."

Word History: We are obviously dealing with a Latin word copied letter for letter out of that language: quincunx "five-twelfths". This word came from the name of a Roman coin bearing this pattern worth five-twelfths of an as, a standard unit of Roman currency. The word is based on quinque "five" + uncia "twelfth part", oddly derived from unus "one". Whatever its origins, Old English borrowed it as ynce "a twelfth". Over the course of Middle English, this word wandered off in two directions, becoming inch, a twelfth of a foot, and ounce, a twelfth of a pound in Troy weight, though 1/16 of a pound Avoirdupois, which we now use. (Many thanks to Lee Blue for suggesting quincunx, a word that defies Dr. Goodword's ability to work Good Words into acknowledgements like this.)
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LukeJavan8
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Re: Quincunx

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:13 pm

Not only quincunx, but I learned about 'inch' as well.
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Audiendus
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Re: Quincunx

Postby Audiendus » Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:31 pm

Quincunx is also used in astrology to mean an aspect of 150 degrees (five-twelfths of a circle) between two planets.

chatsnoir
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Re: Quincunx

Postby chatsnoir » Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:28 am

I was going to comment on the usage of quincunx in astronomy/astrology, but see that someone already has. this aspect between planets in a chart is not considered favorable by astrologers. the only place i'd ever seen this word before now was in astrology books.

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Slava
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Re: Quincunx

Postby Slava » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:44 pm

Imagine the 5-spot above as being 5 circles, touching the edge of the center one. That was a design I saw that was the "bars" over a window. Oddly, though, this was on the 8th floor of a 14-story apartment building.
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