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quaternary

[ kwot-er-ner-ee, kwuh-tur-nuh-ree ]
/ ˈkwɒt ərˌnɛr i, kwəˈtɜr nə ri /
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See synonyms for: quaternary / quaternaries on Thesaurus.com

adjective
consisting of four.
arranged in fours.
(initial capital letter)Geology. noting or pertaining to the present period of earth history, forming the latter part of the Cenozoic Era, originating about 2 million years ago and including the Recent and Pleistocene Epochs.
Metallurgy. (of an alloy) having four principal constituents.
noun, plural quat·er·nar·ies.
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Origin of quaternary

1400–50; late Middle English <Latin quaternārius consisting of four, equivalent to quatern(ī) four at a time + -ārius-ary
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use quaternary in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for quaternary (1 of 2)

quaternary
/ (kwəˈtɜːnərɪ) /

adjective
consisting of fours or by fours
fourth in a series
chem containing or being an atom bound to four other atoms or groupsa quaternary ammonium compound
maths having four variables
noun plural -naries
the number four or a set of four

Word Origin for quaternary

C15: from Latin quaternārius each containing four, from quaternī by fours, distributive of quattuor four

British Dictionary definitions for quaternary (2 of 2)

Quaternary
/ (kwəˈtɜːnərɪ) /

adjective
of, denoting, or formed in the most recent period of geological time, which succeeded the Tertiary period nearly two million years ago
noun
the Quaternary the Quaternary period or rock system, divided into Pleistocene and Holocene (Recent) epochs or series
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

Scientific definitions for quaternary

quaternary
[ kwŏtər-nĕr′ē ]

Noun
Quaternary. The second and last period of the Cenozoic Era, from about 2 million years ago to the present. During this time the continents were situated approximately as they are today, although the geography was different due to fluctuations in sea levels caused by the advance and retreat of ice sheets. Humans first appeared during this period. See Chart at geologic time.
Adjective
Relating to or having a carbon atom that is attached to four other carbon atoms in a molecule. Quaternary pentane, for example, contains five carbon atoms of which one is in the center and the other four are each attached to it.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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