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qua·​drille kwä-ˈdril How to pronounce quadrille (audio)
: a four-handed variant of ombre popular especially in the 18th century
: a square dance for four couples made up of five or six figures chiefly in ⁶/₈ and ²/₄ time
also : music for this dance


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: marked with squares or rectangles

Did you know?

The quadrille, named for its four couples that form the sides of a square, seems to have begun as a French country dance. In the 18th century it became fashionable among the French nobility; as performed by elegantly dressed aristocrats, it became slow and formal. It crossed over to England and from there to New England, where it turned back into a dance for the common people. It soon evolved into the American square dance, a lively type of dance that employs a "caller" to make sure everyone remembers the steps.

Examples of quadrille in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
There's no matchmaking or ribbon clutching (the ribbon on Jane's dress!), and no one dances a quadrille but whatever. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, 27 Sep. 2023 As Marsalis learned, Johnson had more than 200 compositions published, including cotillions, quadrilles, waltzes, reels, operatic airs, military marches and quicksteps. Richard Grant, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 Mar. 2023 The relationships move like an eighteenth-century quadrille, at once restrained and spritely. Michael W. Clune, Harper’s Magazine , 10 Apr. 2023 Square dancing is also derived from various traditional European dances, including the Morris Dance from England and a French dance form called the quadrille, first documented in the seventeenth century. Shirley MacFarland, cleveland, 19 Aug. 2022 Music hall-goers quickly become enamored with the cancan, an energetic new dance style inspired by the quadrille in which dancers kicked their legs high into the air—and exposed their petticoats in the process. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 May 2022 Carrie, assuming she would be included, had been practicing the quadrille with her friends for weeks. Elise Taylor, Vogue, 22 Mar. 2022 These include the long rein, the airs above the ground and the quadrille. Sheryl Devore, chicagotribune.com, 16 June 2021 Mary, on the other hand, famously danced a quadrille at his first inauguration — with Sen. Stephen Douglas, her former boyfriend and the man Lincoln had defeated for the presidency. Washington Post, 21 Jan. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'quadrille.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



French, group of knights engaged in a carousel, from Spanish cuadrilla troop, from diminutive of cuadra square, from Latin quadra, quadrum


French quadrillé

First Known Use


1726, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1856, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of quadrille was in 1726

Dictionary Entries Near quadrille

Cite this Entry

“Quadrille.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quadrille. Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a square dance for four couples or music for this dance

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