quincunx

[kwing-kuhngks, kwin-]
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noun
  1. an arrangement of five objects, as trees, in a square or rectangle, one at each corner and one in the middle.
  2. Botany. an overlapping arrangement of five petals or leaves, in which two are interior, two are exterior, and one is partly interior and partly exterior.

Origin of quincunx

1640–50; < Latin: five twelfths (quinc-, variant of quīnque- quinque- + uncia twelfth; see ounce1); originally a Roman coin worth five twelfths of an as and marked with a quincunx of spots
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British Dictionary definitions for quincunx

quincunx

noun
  1. a group of five objects arranged in the shape of a rectangle with one at each of the four corners and the fifth in the centre
  2. botany a quincuncial arrangement of sepals or petals in the bud
  3. astrology an aspect of 150° between two planets

Word Origin for quincunx

C17: from Latin: five twelfths, from quinque five + uncia twelfth; in ancient Rome, this was a coin worth five twelfths of an as ² and marked with five spots
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 quincunx
n.

1640s, originally astrological, of planetary alignments, from Latin, literally "five twelfths" (especially "five unciae," that is, "five-twelfths of an as," the basic unit of Roman currency), from quinque "five" (see quinque-) + uncia "ounce; a twelfth part (of anything)," related to unus "one" (see one). Applied, especially in garden design, to arrangements like the five pips on a playing card (1660s). Related: Quincuncial.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper