an object mounted on a post or attached to a movable crossbar mounted on a post, used as a target in the medieval sport of tilting.
the sport of tilting at a quintain.

Origin of quintain

1400–50; late Middle English quyntain object for tilting at < Middle French quintaine or Medieval Latin quintāna, of obscure origin; the alleged connection with Latin quīntāna “market place in a military camp” is dubious
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for quintain

center, target, butt, omphalos, quintain

Examples from the Web for quintain

Historical Examples of quintain

  • The game of quintain, which I need not describe, was much in vogue.

  • Soon he was allowed to tilt with his horse and lance at the quintain.

    Life on a Mediaeval Barony

    William Stearns Davis

  • They always kept up the sport of tilting at the Quintain in the water.


    Walter Besant

  • Accordingly she once more betook herself to the quintain post.

    Barchester Towers

    Anthony Trollope

  • The animal swerved and shied and galloped off wide of the quintain.

    Barchester Towers

    Anthony Trollope

British Dictionary definitions for quintain


noun (esp in medieval Europe)

a post or target set up for tilting exercises for mounted knights or foot soldiers
the exercise of tilting at such a target

Word Origin for quintain

C14: from Old French quintaine, from Latin: street in a Roman camp between the fifth and sixth maniples, from quintus fifth
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 quintain

"target for tilting and jousting practice," c.1400 (in Anglo-Latin from mid-13c.), from Old French quintaine or directly from Medieval Latin quintana; perhaps from Latin quintana "of the fifth" (see quinque-), which as a noun meant "the business part of a camp," on the supposition that this was where military exercises were done [OED].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper