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quar·ter (kwôrtər)
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n.
1. One of four equal parts.
2. A coin equal to one fourth of the dollar of the United States and Canada.
3. One fourth of an hour; 15 minutes.
4. Abbr. Q
a. One fourth of a year; three months: Sales were up in the second quarter.
b. An academic term lasting approximately three months.
5. Astronomy
a. One fourth of the period of the moon's revolution around Earth.
b. One of the two phases of the moon at which the moon, as viewed from Earth, appears to be half illuminated by the sun. The quarter phases mark the quarter and three-quarter points of the moon's revolution about the Earth.
6. Sports One of four equal periods of playing time into which some games, such as football and basketball, are divided.
7. One fourth of a yard; nine inches.
8. One fourth of a mile; two furlongs.
9. One fourth of a pound; four ounces.
10. One fourth of a ton; 500 pounds. Used as a measure of grain.
11. Chiefly British A measure of grain equal to approximately eight bushels.
12.
a. One fourth of a hundredweight; 25 pounds.
b. One fourth of a British hundredweight; 28 pounds.
13.
a. One of the four major divisions of the compass.
b. One fourth of the distance between any two of the 32 divisions of the compass.
c. One of the four major divisions of the horizon as determined by the four major points of the compass.
d. A region or an area of the earth thought of as falling into such a specific division of the compass.
e. Nautical The general direction on either side of a ship located 45° off the stern.
14. Nautical
a. The upper portion of the after side of a ship, usually between the aftermost mast and the stern.
b. The part of a yard between the slings and the yardarm.
15. Heraldry Any of four equal divisions of a shield.
16. One leg of an animal's carcass, usually including the adjoining parts.
17. Either side of a horse's hoof.
18. The part of the side of a shoe between the heel and the vamp.
19. quarters A place of residence, especially the buildings or barracks used to house military personnel or their dependents.
20. often quarters A proper or assigned station or place, as for officers and crew on a warship.
21. often Quarter A specific district or section, as of a city: the French Quarter.
22. often quarters An unspecified person or group: information from the highest quarters.
23. Mercy or clemency, especially when displayed or given to an enemy.
adj.
1. Being one of four equal or equivalent parts.
2. Being one fourth of a standard or usual value.
v. quar·tered, quar·ter·ing, quar·ters
v.tr.
1.
a. To divide into four equal or equivalent parts.
b. To quartersaw.
2. To divide or separate into a number of parts.
3. To dismember (a human body) into four parts.
4. Heraldry To divide (a shield) into four equal areas with vertical and horizontal lines.
5.
a. To mark or place (holes, for example) a fourth of a circle apart.
b. To locate and adjust (one machine part) at right angles to its connecting part within the machine.
6. To furnish with housing: quartered the troops in an old factory building.
7. To traverse (an area of ground) laterally back and forth while slowly advancing forward.
v.intr.
1. To take up or be assigned lodgings.
2. To cover an area of ground by ranging over it from side to side.

[Middle English, from Old French quartier, from Latin quārtārius, from quārtus, fourth; see kwetwer- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

Usage Note: When referring to the time of day, the article a is optional in phrases such as (a) quarter to (or of, before, or till) nine; (a) quarter after (or past) ten.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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