a. A circular arc of 90°; one fourth of the circumference of a circle.
b. The plane area bounded by such an arc and two perpendicular radii.
c. Any of the four areas into which a plane is divided by the reference axes in a Cartesian coordinate system, designated first, second, third, and fourth, counting counterclockwise from the area in which both coordinates are positive.
2. A machine part or other mechanical device that is shaped like a quarter circle.
3. An early instrument for measuring altitude of celestial bodies, consisting of a 90° graduated arc with a movable radius for measuring angles.
[Middle English, quarter of a day, from Latin quadrāns, quadrant-, a fourth part; see kwetwer- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.