[kat-er-foil, ka-truh-]


a leaf composed of four leaflets.
Architecture. a panellike ornament composed of four lobes, divided by cusps, radiating from a common center.

Origin of quatrefoil

1375–1425; Middle English < Middle French quatre four + -foil (as in trefoil)
Related formsquat·re·foiled, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for quatrefoil

Historical Examples of quatrefoil

  • The tympanum of the large arch is pierced with a quatrefoil or trefoil.

    Scottish Cathedrals and Abbeys

    Dugald Butler and Herbert Story

  • Here too are seen two quatrefoil openings for the reception of offerings.

  • The Keep, which is in plan like a quatrefoil, consisted of two storeys.

  • It must have its two mullions as before, with the quatrefoil tracery which had remained undamaged in the west window opposite.


    E. W. Hornung

  • The deep soffit of the arch in which this elegant arcading is enclosed, is adorned with a series of quatrefoil panels.

British Dictionary definitions for quatrefoil



a leaf composed of four leaflets
architect a carved ornament having four foils arranged about a common centre, esp one used in tracery

Word Origin for quatrefoil

C15: from Old French, from quatre four + -foil leaflet; compare trefoil
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 quatrefoil

"flower with four leaves," early 15c., from Old French quatrefoil, from quatre "four" (see four) + foil "leaf" (see foil (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper