noun, plural quad·ri·ceps·es [kwod-ruh-sep-siz] /ˈkwɒd rəˌsɛp sɪz/, quad·ri·ceps. Anatomy.
  1. a large muscle in front of the thigh, the action of which extends the leg or bends the hip joint.

Origin of quadriceps

1830–40; < New Latin, equivalent to quadri- quadri- + -ceps; see biceps
Related formsquad·ri·cip·i·tal [kwod-ruh-sip-i-tl] /ˌkwɒd rəˈsɪp ɪ tl/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for quadriceps


noun plural -cepses (-ˌsɛpsɪz) or -ceps
  1. anatomy a large four-part muscle of the front of the thigh, which extends the leg
Derived Formsquadricipital (ˌkwɒdrɪˈsɪpɪtəl), adjective

Word Origin for quadriceps

C19: New Latin, from quadri- + -ceps as in biceps
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for quadriceps

1840, see quadricep.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

quadriceps in Medicine


  1. The large four-part extensor muscle at the front of the thigh.
  1. Having four heads, said of certain muscles.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

quadriceps in Science


  1. The large, four-part muscle at the front of the thigh that arises in the hip and pelvis and inserts as a strong tendon below the kneecap (patella). The quadriceps straightens and helps stabilize the knee.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.