• quadriga •
kwah-dree-gê • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A chariot pulled by a team of four horses abreast.
Notes: Today's rarely used word comes with a lexical family, that includes biga "a two-horse team" and triga "a three-horse team". Quadrigate is the adjective, meaning "like a quadriga" as 'a quadrigate coin', stamped with a quadriga, and another, quadrigarious, meaning "related to a quadriga". The most widely used plural of this noun is still the Latin quadrigae though, according to my spell checker, quadrigas works just as well.
In Play: Today this word is used mostly for statuary and imprints on coins: "When Napoleon captured Berlin, he took the quadriga atop the Brandenburg Gate back to Paris with him as a war trophy." (See the picture of his trophy above.) As for coins, this word may occur in expressions like this: "The obverse of the coin featured a winged Victory, crowning a charioteer driving a quadriga."
Word History: Today's Good Word IS Latin quadriga "team of four horses". This word is a contraction of quadrijuga, feminine of an adjective quadrijugus "of a yoked, united foursome", used as a noun. It is made up of quadr- "four" + iugum "yoke". Quadr- is the combining form for quattuor "four", which Latin inherited from PIE kwetwer-/kwetwor-, source also of Sanskrit catvarah, ancient Greek tetra (Modern Greek tessera), Russian chetyre, Irish ceathair, and Lithuanian keturi. Latin iugum came from PIE yeug-/youg- "to join", which turned up in Greek as zugon, in English as yoke, in Russian and Bulgarian as archaic igo "yoke, oppression", and in Sanskrit as yogah "union", which English and other European languages took for their yoga. We see iuga in the Latinate borrowing subjugate, which means "to put under a figurative yoke."
P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!
Come visit our website at <http://www.alphadictionary.com> for more Good Words and other language resources!