quarter horse


: any of a breed of compact muscular saddle horses developed in the U.S. and characterized by great endurance and by high speed for short distances

Illustration of quarter horse

Illustration of quarter horse

Examples of quarter horse in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some 20 other quarter horses, along with a donkey and pig, roamed the pens behind the barn and arena. Eric Adler, Kansas City Star, 4 Apr. 2024 Horse cavalries: The lineup of horses in this year’s parade will include quarter horses carrying a platoon-sized unit of soldiers, the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales and pinto American Saddlebreds drawing a medieval carriage and its riders. Natalie Kainz, NBC News, 1 Jan. 2024 Long known for Hereford cattle and quarter horses, Babbitt Ranches stretches over 700,000 acres of private and leased public land. Catrin Einhorn, New York Times, 11 Feb. 2024 The chestnut mare named Pretty Runaway, 7, is a quarter horse living on a mostly woman-run farm in Cameron, Ontario, her groom Autumn Purdy, known as @Emilyautumnmoto on TikTok, told McClatchy News in a phone interview. Paloma Chavez, Miami Herald, 15 Feb. 2024 Los Alamitos, which runs a year-round quarter horse and low-quality thoroughbred meeting, still exists because of the conviction and commitment of 87-year-old owner Ed Allred. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 1 Sep. 2023 Mike Moorman made the 2.5-mile trip to Edmond's Rose Union Elementary School with not just one, but two horses in tow — 3-year-old Nova and a 12-year-old quarter horse named Grady, according to Today. Laura Barcella, Peoplemag, 24 May 2023 The Bradshaws have moved along with their quarter horse breeding operation to a smaller Texas ranch south of the river. Steve Brown, Dallas News, 11 Apr. 2023 The couple own about two dozen horses, a mix of thoroughbreds and quarter horses that mostly run in New Mexico and Arizona. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, 7 Apr. 2023

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

Word History


from its high speed for distances up to a quarter of a mile

First Known Use

1822, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of quarter horse was in 1822

Dictionary Entries Near quarter horse

Cite this Entry

“Quarter horse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quarter%20horse. Accessed 22 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

quarter horse

: any of a breed of stocky muscular horses capable of high speed for short distances
Word Origin
Quarter horse might seem like a strange name for an animal that is not only full-sized but quite sturdy and muscular. However, the breed gets its name not because it is a fraction of a horse but because it can run very fast for short distances. Unlike the slender, long-legged Thoroughbred horse, the compact quarter horse is built for quick bursts of speed. For about a quarter-mile the quarter horse probably can run faster than any other breed of horse. After that distance the quarter horse begins to slow down and can be beaten in a race with other horses.

More from Merriam-Webster on quarter horse

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