See more synonyms for quarter on Thesaurus.com
  1. one of the four equal or equivalent parts into which anything is or may be divided: a quarter of an apple; a quarter of a book.
  2. a fourth part, especially of one (¼).
  3. one fourth of a U.S. or Canadian dollar, equivalent to 25 cents.
  4. a coin of this value.
  5. one fourth of an hour: He stayed there for an hour and a quarter.
  6. the moment marking this period: The clock struck the quarter.
  7. one fourth of a calendar or fiscal year: The bank sends out a statement each quarter.
  8. Astronomy.
    1. a fourth of the moon's period or monthly revolution, being that portion of its period or orbital course between a quadrature and a syzygy.
    2. either quadrature of the moon.Compare first quarter, last quarter.
  9. (in schools, colleges, and universities) one of the terms or periods into which instruction is organized, generally 10 to 12 weeks in length.
  10. Sports. any of the four periods that make up certain games, as football and basketball.Compare half(def 3).
  11. one fourth of a pound.
  12. one fourth of a mile; two furlongs.
  13. one fourth of a yard; 9 inches.
  14. a unit of weight: one fourth of a hundredweight. In the U.S. this equals 25 pounds and in Britain 28 pounds.
  15. British. a measure of capacity for grain, etc., equal to 8 bushels, or, locally, to approximately this.
  16. the region of any of the four principal points of the compass or divisions of the horizon.
  17. such a point or division.
  18. any point or direction of the compass: The wind is blowing in that quarter.
  19. a region, district, or place.
  20. a particular district of a city or town, especially one generally occupied by a particular group of people: the Turkish quarter; an artists' quarter.
  21. Usually quarters.
    1. housing accommodations, as a place of residence; lodgings.
    2. Military.the buildings, houses, barracks, or rooms occupied by military personnel or their families.
  22. Often quarters. an unspecified part or member of a community, government, etc., that serves as a source of information or authority: He received secret information from a high quarter.
  23. mercy or indulgence, especially as shown in sparing the life and accepting the surrender of a vanquished enemy: to give quarter; to ask for quarter.
  24. one of the four parts, each including a leg, of the body or carcass of a quadruped.
  25. Veterinary Medicine. the part of a horse's hoof between heel and toe.
  26. Shoemaking. the part of a boot or shoe on each side of the foot, from the middle of the back to the vamp.
  27. Nautical.
    1. the after part of a ship's side, usually from about the aftermost mast to the stern.
    2. the general horizontal direction 45° from the stern of a ship on either side: Another boat is coming near on the port quarter.
    3. one of the stations to which crew members are called for battle, emergencies, or drills.
    4. the part of a yard between the slings and the yardarm.
    5. quarter point.
  28. Heraldry.
    1. any of the four equal areas into which an escutcheon may be divided by a vertical and a horizontal line passing through the center.
    2. any of the variously numbered areas into which an escutcheon may be divided for the marshaling of different arms.
    3. any of the arms marshaled on an escutcheon.
    4. a charge occupying one quarter of an escutcheon, especially that in dexter chief.Compare canton(def 3).
  29. each half of a cask, consisting of the portion from the bilge to the top chime and the portion from the bilge to the bottom chime.
verb (used with object)
  1. to divide into four equal or equivalent parts.
  2. to divide into parts fewer or more than four: Quarter the pie into six pieces.
  3. to cut the body of (a person) into quarters, especially in executing for treason or the like.
  4. Machinery. to make holes in, fix, etc., a quarter of a circle apart.
  5. to furnish with lodging in a particular place.
  6. to impose (soldiers) on persons, towns, etc., to be lodged and fed: He quartered his men with the farmer.
  7. to assign to a particular place for service, action, etc., as on a battleship.
  8. to traverse (the ground) from left to right and right to left while advancing, as dogs in search of game.
  9. Heraldry.
    1. to divide (an escutcheon) into four or more parts.
    2. to place or bear quarterly (different coats of arms, etc.) on an escutcheon.
    3. to display (a coat of arms) with one's own on an escutcheon.
verb (used without object)
  1. to take up, or be in quarters; lodge: to quarter in a cheap hotel.
  2. to range to and fro, as dogs in search of game.
  3. Nautical. to sail so as to have the wind or sea on the quarter.
  1. being one of four equal or approximately equal parts into which anything is or may be divided.
  2. being equal to only about one fourth of the full measure.

Origin of quarter

1250–1300; (noun) Middle English < Anglo-French; Old French quartier < Latin quartārius, equivalent to quart(us) fourth + -ārius -ary; (v.) Middle English quarteren, derivative of the noun
Related formsquar·ter·er, nounhalf-quar·ter, adjectivein·ter·quar·ter, nounout·quar·ters, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for quarters

Contemporary Examples of quarters

Historical Examples of quarters

  • I am bound for my quarters, I came but to thank you for your goodness to me, and to bid you farewell.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • Her exhibitions in all other quarters have been mere disguises.

  • Hines turned to me and said, Go to your quarters; I will settle with you in the morning.

    Biography of a Slave

    Charles Thompson

  • Then we had no quarters at all, being perfectly exposed to grape and canister.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Their quarters were very clean, and littered with fresh straw.

    In the Heart of Vosges

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

British Dictionary definitions for quarters


pl n
  1. housing or accommodation, esp as provided for military personnel and their families
  2. the stations assigned to military personnel, esp to each crew member of a warshipgeneral quarters
  3. (in India) housing provided by an employer or by the government
  4. (functioning as singular) military slang short for quartermaster


  1. one of four equal or nearly equal parts of an object, quantity, amount, etc
  2. Also called: fourth the fraction equal to one divided by four (1/4)
  3. US and Canadian a quarter of a dollar; 25-cent piece
  4. a unit of weight equal to a quarter of a hundredweight. 1 US quarter is equal to 25 pounds; 1 Brit quarter is equal to 28 pounds
  5. short for quarter-hour
  6. a fourth part of a year; three months
  7. astronomy
    1. one fourth of the moon's period of revolution around the earth
    2. either of two phases of the moon, first quarter or last quarter when half of the lighted surface is visible from the earth
  8. informal a unit of weight equal to a quarter of a pound or 4 ounces
  9. British a unit of capacity for grain, etc, usually equal to 8 UK bushels
  10. sport one of the four periods into which certain games are divided
  11. nautical the part of a vessel's side towards the stern, usually aft of the aftermost mastthe port quarter
  12. nautical the general direction along the water in the quadrant between the beam of a vessel and its sternthe wind was from the port quarter
  13. a region or district of a town or citythe Spanish quarter
  14. a region, direction, or point of the compass
  15. (sometimes plural) an unspecified person or group of peopleto get word from the highest quarter
  16. mercy or pity, as shown to a defeated opponent (esp in the phrases ask for or give quarter)
  17. any of the four limbs, including the adjacent parts, of the carcass of a quadruped or birda hind quarter of beef
  18. vet science the side part of the wall of a horse's hoof
  19. the part of a shoe or boot covering the heel and joining the vamp
  20. heraldry one of four more or less equal quadrants into which a shield may be divided
  21. military slang short for quartermaster
  1. (tr) to divide into four equal or nearly equal parts
  2. (tr) to divide into any number of parts
  3. (tr) (esp formerly) to dismember (a human body)to be drawn and quartered
  4. to billet or be billeted in lodgings, esp (of military personnel) in civilian lodgings
  5. (intr) (of gun dogs or hounds) to range over an area of ground in search of game or the scent of quarry
  6. (intr) nautical (of the wind) to blow onto a vessel's quarterthe wind began to quarter
  7. (tr) heraldry
    1. to divide (a shield) into four separate bearings with a cross
    2. to place (one set of arms) in diagonally opposite quarters to another
  1. being or consisting of one of four equal partsa quarter pound of butter
See also quarters

Word Origin for quarter

C13: from Old French quartier, from Latin quartārius a fourth part, from quartus fourth
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 quarters

"military dwelling place," 1590s, from quarter (n.) in sense of "portion of a town." As "part of an American plantation where the slaves live," from 1724. The military sense seems to be also the source of quartermaster and it might be behind the phrase give quarter "spare from immediate death" (1610s, often in the negative), on the notion of "provide a prisoner with shelter."



c.1300, "one-fourth of anything; one of four parts or divisions of a thing;" often in reference to the four parts into which a slaughtered animal is cut, from Old French quartier, cartier (12c.), from Latin quartarius "fourth part," from quartus "fourth" (see quart). One of the earliest dated references in English is to "parts of the body as dismembered during execution" (c.1300).

Used of the phases of the moon from early 15c. The use of quarter of an hour is attested from mid-15c. In Middle English quarter also meant "one of the four divisions of a 12-hour night" (late 14c.), and the quarter of the night meant "nine o'clock p.m." (early 14c.).

From late 14c. as "one of the four quadrants of the heavens;" hence, from the notion of the winds, "a side, a direction" (c.1400). In heraldry from mid-14c. as "one of the four divisions of a shield or coat of arms." The word's connection with "four" loosened in Middle English and by 15c. expressions such as six-quartered for "six-sided" are found. Meaning "region, locality, area, place" is from c.1400. Meaning "portion of a town" (identified by the class or race of people who live there) is first attested 1520s. For military sense, see quarters. As a period of time in a football game, from 1911. Quarter horse, bred strong for racing on quarter-mile tracks, first recorded 1834.

The coin (one fourth of a dollar) is peculiar to U.S., first recorded 1783. But quarter could mean "a farthing" in Middle English (late 14c.), and cf. British quadrant "a farthing" (c.1600), and classical Latin quadrans, the name of a coin worth a quarter of an as (the basic unit of Roman currency).

Quarter days (mid-15c.), designated as days when rents were paid and contracts and leases began or expired, were, in England, Lady day (March 25), Midsummer day (June 24), Michaelmas day (Sept. 29), and Christmas day (Dec. 25); in Scotland, keeping closer to the pagan Celtic calendar, they were Candlemas (Feb. 2), Whitsunday (May 15), Lammas (Aug. 1), and Martinmas (Nov. 11). Quarter in the sense "period of three months; one of the four divisions of a year" is recorded from late 14c.



"to cut in quarters, divide into four parts," mid-14c., from quarter (n.). Specifically as the word for a form of criminal punishment from late 14c. (Old English had slitcwealm "death by rending"). Related: Quartered; quartering. The meaning "to put up soldiers" is recorded from 1590s (see quarters).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with quarters


see at close quarters; draw and quarter.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.