quin·​cunx | \ ˈkwin-ˌkəŋ(k)s How to pronounce quincunx (audio) \

Definition of quincunx

: an arrangement of five things in a square or rectangle with one at each corner and one in the middle

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from quincunx

quincuncial \ kwin-​ˈkən(t)-​shəl How to pronounce quincuncial (audio) \ or quincunxial \ kwin-​ˈkəŋk-​sē-​əl How to pronounce quincunxial (audio) \ adjective

Give Me Five for Quincunx

In ancient Rome, a quincunx was a coin with a weight equal to five twelfths of a libra, a unit of weight similar to our pound. The coin's name comes from the Latin roots quinque, meaning "five," and uncia, meaning "one twelfth."  The ancients used a pattern of five dots arranged like the pips on a die as a symbol for the coin, and English speakers applied the word to arrangements similar to that distinctive five-dot mark.

First Known Use of quincunx

1545, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for quincunx

Latin quincunc-, quincunx, literally, five twelfths, from quinque five + uncia twelfth part — more at five, ounce

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about quincunx

Time Traveler for quincunx

Time Traveler

The first known use of quincunx was in 1545

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about quincunx

Statistics for quincunx

Cite this Entry

“Quincunx.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quincunx. Accessed 8 December 2019.

Comments on quincunx

What made you want to look up quincunx? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to constrict the range or activity of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!