quantal was our Word of the Day on 02/25/2016. Hear the podcast!
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Get Quantitative With quantum
In Latin, quantum is the neuter form of quantus, meaning "how much?" Both of these forms played a role in the development of quantal. The first sense of quantal, used in scientific experimentation to refer to cases in which only one of two possible results occurs, derived from quanti, the plural of quantus. (Quantus is also an ancestor of our noun quantity.) The second sense of quantal is more directly related to Latin quantum and the English noun quantum, which refers to the smallest possible unit of a form of energy (such as light).
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