Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary




Q is the seventeenth letter of the English Alphabet; an articulation borrowed from the oriental koph or qoph, Hebrew. It is supposed to be an articulation more deeply guttural than that of K; indeed it might have been pronounced as we pronounce qu; for we observe that in the Latin language, from which the moderns have borrowed the letter, it is always followed by u, as it is in English. This letter is not in the Greek alphabet. This letter is superfluous; for ku or koo, in English, have precisely the same sounds as qu. It is alleged that in expressing q, the cheeks are contracted, and the lips put into a canular form, for the passage of the breath; circumstances which distinguish it from k. This appears to be a mistake. This position of the organs is entirely owing to the following letter u; and kuestion and question are pronounced precisely alike, and with the same configuration of the organs. It appears then that q is precisely k, with this difference in use, that q is always followed by u in English, and k is not. Q never ends an English word.

As a numeral, Q stands for 500, and with a dash above the Q, for 500,000.

Used as an abbreviation, Q stands for quantity, or quantum; as among physicians, q. pl. quantum placet, as much as you please; q s quantum sufficit, as much as is required, or as is sufficient.

Among mathematicians, Q.E.D. stands for quod erat demonstrandum, which was to be demonstrated; Q.E.F. quod erat faciendum, which was to be done.

In English, Q is an abbreviation for question.

QUAB, n.

A fish of Russian rivers, which delights in clear water.

QUACHILTO, n. A Brazilian fowl of the moor-hen kind, of a fine black color variegated with white. It voice resembles the crowing of a cock.

QUACK, v.i.

1. To cry like a duck or goose.

2. To boast; to bounce; to talk noisily and ostentatiously; as, pretenders to medical skill quack of their cures.

QUACK, n. [from the verb.]

1. A boaster; one who pretends to skill or knowledge which he does not possess.

2. A boastful pretender to medical skill which he does not possess; an empiric; an ignorant practitioner.

QUACKERY, n. The boastful pretensions or mean practice of an ignoramus, particularly in medicine; empiricism.

QUACKISH, a. Like a quack; boasting of skill not possessed; trickish.

QUACKISM, n. The practice of quackery.

QUACKLED, QUACKENED, a. Almost choked or suffocated.


One who boasts of his skill in medicines and salves, or of the efficacy of his prescriptions; a charlatan.

QUAD, a. Evil; bad. [Not used.]

QUADRAGENE, n. [L. quadrageni.] A papal indulgence multiplying remissions by forties.

QUADRAGESIMA, n. [L. quadragesimus, fortieth, from quatuor, four.]

Lent; so called because it consists of forty days.

QUADRAGESIMAL, a. [supra.] Belonging to Lent; used in Lent.

QUADRAGESIMALS, n. plu. [supra.] Offerings formerly made to the mother church on mid-lent Sunday.

QUADRANGLE, n. [L. quadratus, square, from quatuor, four, and angulus, angle.]

In geometry, a quadrilateral figure; a square; a figure consisting of four sides and four angles.

QUADRANGULAR, a. [supra.]

1. Square; having four sides and four angles.

2. In botany, having four prominent angles, as a stem or leaf.

QUADRANT, n. [L. quadrans, a fourth.]

1. The fourth part; the quarter.

2. In geometry, the quarter of a circle; the arc of a circle containing ninety degrees; also, the space or area included between this arc and two radii drawn from the center to each extremity.

3. An instrument for taking the altitudes of the sun or stars, of great use in astronomy and navigation. Quadrants are variously made, but they all consist of the quarter of a circle whose limb is divided into ninety degrees; or, as in Hadley’s reflecting quadrant, an arc of forty five degrees is made to serve the same purpose as an arc of ninety degrees.

Quadrant of altitude, an appendage of the artificial globe, consisting of a slip of brass of the length of a quadrant of one of the great circles of the globe, and graduated. It is filled to the meridian and movable round to all points of the horizon. It serves as a scale in measuring altitudes, azimuths, etc.

QUADRANTAL, a. [supra.] Pertaining to a quadrant; also, included in the fourth part of a circle; as quadrantal space.

QUADRANTAL, n. [supra.] A vessel used by the Romans; originally called amphora. It was square and contained 80 pounds of water.

QUADRAT, n. [L. quadratus, squared.]

1. In printing, a piece of metal used to fill the void spaces between words, etc. Quadrats are of different sizes; as m-quadrats, etc.

2. A mathematical instrument, called also a geometrical square, and line of shadows.


1. Square; having four equal and parallel sides.

2. Divisible into four equal parts.

3. Square; equal; exact.

4. Suited; fitted; applicable; correspondent.


1. A square; a surface with four equal and parallel sides.

2. In astrology, an aspect of the heavenly bodies, in which they are distant from each other ninety degrees, or the quarter of a circle; the same as quartile.

QUADRATE, v.i. [L. quadro.]

To suit; to correspond; to agree with; to be accommodated; followed by with.

Aristotle’s rules for epic poetry - cannot be supposed to quadrate exactly with modern heroic poems.

QUADRATIC, a. Square; denoting a square or pertaining to it.

Quadratic equation, in algebra, an equation in which the unknown quantity is of two dimensions, or raised to the second power; or one in which the highest power of the unknown quantity is a square.


1. A square or squared figure.

2. In geometry, a mechanical line by means of which we can find right lines equal to the circumference of circles or other curves and their several parts.

QUADRATURE, n. [L. quadratura.]

1. The act of squaring; the reducing of a figure to a square. Thus the finding of a square which shall contain just as much area as a circle or a triangle, is the quadrature of that circle or triangle.

2. A quadrate; a square.

3. In astronomy, the aspect of the moon when distant from the sun 90 degrees or a quarter of the circle; or when the moon is at an equal distance from the points of conjunction and opposition.

Quadrature of curves, in mathematics, the finding of rectilineal figures containing the same areas as figures bounded by curved lines.

QUADREL, n. In architecture, a kind of artificial stone made of chalky earth and dried in the shade for two years; so called from being square.

QUADRENNIAL, a. [L. quadriennium; quadra or quadrans, from quatuor, four, and annus, year.]

1. Comprising four years; as a quadrennial period.

2. Occurring once in four years as quadrennial games.

QUADRENNIALLY, adv. Once in four years.

QUADRIBLE, a. [L. quadro, to square.] That may be squared.

QUADRICAPSULAR, a. [L. quadra and capsula.]

In botany, having four capsules to a flower; as a quadricapsular pericarp.

QUADRIDECIMAL, a. [L. quadra and decem.]

In crystallography, designating a crystal whose prism or the middle part has four faces and two summits, containing together ten faces.

QUADRIDENTATE, a. [L. quadra and dentatus, toothed.]

In botany, having four teeth on the edge.

QUADRIFID, a. [L. quadrifidus; quadra and findo, to divide.]

In botany, four-cleft, as a quadrifid perianth; cut into four segments, with linear sinuses and straight margins, as a quadrifid leaf.

QUADRIJUGOUS, a. [L. quadra and jugum, yoke.]

In botany, pinnate, with four pairs of leaflets; as a quadrijugous leaf.

QUADRILATERAL, a. [L. quadra, or quatuor, four, and latus, side.] Having four sides and four angles.

QUADRILATERAL, n. A figure having four sides and four angles; a quadrangular figure.

QUADRILATERALNESS, n. The property of having four right lined sides, forming as many right angles.

QUADRILITERAL, a. [L. quadra, or quatuor, four, and litera, letter.]

Consisting of four letters.

QUADRILLE, n. quadril’, or cadril’.

1. A game played by four persons with 40 cards, being the remainder of the pack after the four tens, nines and eights are discarded.

2. A kind of dance.

QUADRILOBATE, QUADRILOBED, a. [L. quadra, or quatuor, four, and lobe, Gr.]

In botany, having four lobes; as a quadrilobed leaf.

QUADRILOCULAR, a. [L. quadra, quatuor, and loculus, a cell.]

Having four cells; four-celled; as a quadrilocular pericarp.

QUADRIN, n. [L. quadrinus.] A mite; a small piece of money, in value about a farthing. [Not in use.]

QUADRINOMIAL, a. [L. quadra, quatuor, and nomen, name.]

Consisting of four denominations or terms.

QUADRIPARTITE, a. [L. quadra, quatuor, and partitus, divided.]

Divided into four parts, or consisting of four corresponding parts.

QUADRIPARTITELY, adv. In four divisions; in a quadripartite distribution.

QUADRIPARTITION, n. A division by four or into four parts; or the taking the fourth part of any quantity or number.

QUADRIPHYLLOUS, a. [L. quadra, quatuor, four, and Gr. leaf.] Having four leaves.

QUADRIREME, n. [L. quadriremis; quatuor, four, and remus, oar.]

A galley with four benches of oars or rowers.

QUADRISYLLABLE, n. [L. quadra, quatuor, and syllable.] A word consisting of four syllables.

QUADRIVALVE, QUADRIVALVULAR, a. In botany, having four valves; four-valved; as a quadrivalve pericarp.

QUADRIVALVES, n. plu. [L. quadra, quatuor, and valva, valve.] A door with four folds or leaves.

QUADRIVIAL, a. [L. quadrivium; quatuor, four, and via, way.] Having four ways meeting in a point.

QUADROON, n. [L. quadra, quatuor.] In Spanish America, the offspring of a mulatto woman by a white man; a person quarter-blooded.

QUADRUMAN, n. [L. quadra and manus, hand.]

An animal having four hands or limbs that correspond to the hands of a man, as a monkey.

QUADRUMANOUS, a. Having four hands; four-handed.

QUADRUNE, n. A gritstone with a calcarious cement.

QUADRUPED, a. [L. quadrupes; quadra, quatuor, four, and pes, foot.] Having four legs and feet.

QUADRUPED, n. An animal having four legs and feet, as a horse, an ox, a lion, etc.

QUADRUPLE, a. [L. quadruplus; quadra, quatuor, and plico, to fold.]

Fourfold; four times told; as, to make quadruple restitution for trespass or theft.

QUADRUPLE, n. Four times the sum or number; as, to receive quadruple the amount in damages or profits.

QUADRUPLICATE, a. Fourfold; four times repeated; as a quadruplicate ratio or proportion.

QUADRUPLICATE, v.t. [L. quadruplico; quatuor and plico, to fold.] To make fourfold; to double twice.

QUADRUPLICATION, n. The act of making fourfold and taking four times the simple sum or amount.

QUADRUPLY, adv. To a fourfold quantity; as, to be quadruply recompensed.

QUAERE, [L.] Inquire; better written query, which see.

QUAESTOR. [See Questor.]

QUAFF, v.t.

To drink; to swallow in large draughts.

He quaffs the muscadel.

They in communion sweet quaff immortality and joy.

QUAFF, v.i. To drink largely or luxuriously.

QUAFFED, pp. Drank; swallowed in large draughts.

QUAFFER, n. One that quaffs or drinks largely.

QUAFFER, v.t. To feel out. [Not in use.]

QUAFFING, ppr. Drinking; swallowing draughts.

QUAGGY, a. [supposed to be from the root of quake.]

Yielding to the feet or trembling under the foot, as soft wet earth.

QUAGMIRE, n. [that is, quake-mire.] Soft wet land, which has a surface firm enough to bear a person, but which shakes or yields under the feet.

QUAHAUG, n. quaw’hog. In New England, the popular name of a large species of clams or bivalvular shells. [This name is probably derived from the natives.]

QUAID, a. or pp. [for quailed.] Crushed, subdued, or depressed. [Not used.]

QUAIL, v.i. [Quail, in English, signifies to sink or languish, to curdle, and to crush or quell.]

1. To sink into dejection; to languish; to fail in spirits. [Little used.]

2. To fade; to wither. Obs.

QUAIL, v.i.

To curdle; to coagulate; as milk.

QUAIL, v.t. To crush; to depress; to sink; to subdue. [This orthography is obsolete. The word is now written quell.]

A bird of the genus Tetrao or grouse kind, or according to Latham’s arrangement, of the genus Perdix, in which he comprehends the partridge and quail. In New England, the name is applied to a peculiar species of the perdix, which is called partridge in the middle states, but it is neither the partridge nor quail of Europe.

QUAILING, ppr. Failing; languishing. Obs.

QUAILING, n. The act of failing in spirit or resolution; decay. Obs.

QUAIL-PIPE, n. A pipe or call for alluring quails into a net; a kind of leathern purse in the shape of a pear, partly filled with horse hair, with a whistle at the end.

QUAINT, a. [The latter word would lead us to refer quaint to the Latin accinctus, ready, but Skinner thinks it more probably from comptus, neat, well dressed.]

1. Nice; scrupulously and superfluously exact; having petty elegance; as a quaint phrase; a quaint fashion.

To show how quaint an orator you are.

2. Subtle; artful. Obs.

3. Fine-spun; artfully framed.

4. Affected; as quaint fopperies.

5. In common use, odd; fanciful; singular; and so used by Chaucer.


1. Nicely; exactly; with petty neatness or spruceness; as hair more quaintly curled.

2. Artfully.

Breathe his faults so quaintly.

3. Ingeniously; with dexterity.

I quaintly stole a kiss.


1. Niceness; petty neatness or elegance.

There is a majesty in simplicity, which is far above the quaintness of wit.

2. Oddness; peculiarity.

QUAKE, v.i.

1. To shake; to tremble; to be agitated with quick but short motions continually repeated; to shudder. Thus we say, a person quakes with fear or terror, or with cold. Hebrews 12:21.

2. To shake with violent convulsions, as well as with trembling; as, the earth quakes; the mountains quake. Nahum 1:5.

3. To shake, tremble or move, as the earth under the feet; as the quaking mud.

QUAKE, v.t. To frighten; to throw into agitation. [Not used.]
QUAKE, n. A shake; a trembling; a shudder; a tremulous agitation.

QUAKER, n. One that quakes; but usually, one of the religious sect called friends. This name, quakers, is said to have been given to the sect in reproach, an account of some agitations which distinguished them; but it is no longer appropriated to them by way of reproach.

QUAKERISM, n. The peculiar manners, tenets or worship of the quakers.

QUAKERLY, a. Resembling quakers.

QUAKERY, n. Quakerism.

QUAKING, ppr. Shaking; trembling.

QUAKING, n. A shaking; tremulous agitation; trepidation. Daniel 10:7.

QUAKING-GRASS, n. An herb.

QUALIFIABLE, a. [from qualify.] That may be qualified; that may be abated or modified.


1. Any natural endowment or any acquirement which fits a person for a place, office or employment, or enables him to sustain any character with success. Integrity and talents should be considered as indispensable qualifications for men entrusted with public affairs; but private interest and party-spirit will often dispense with these and all other qualifications.

There is no qualification for government but virtue and wisdom, actual or presumptive.

2. Legal power or requisite; as the qualifications of electors.

3. Abatement; diminution.

4. Modification; restriction; limitation. words or expressions may be used in a general sense, without any qualification.

QUALIFIED, pp. Fitted by accomplishments or endowments; modified.

Qualified fee, in law, a base fee, or an estate which has a qualification annexed to it, and which ceases with the qualification, as a grant to A and his heirs, tenants of the manor of Dale.

Qualified negative, in legislation, the power of negativing bills which have passed the two houses of the legislature; a power vested in the president, governor or other officer, but subject to be overruled and defeated by a subsequent vote of the two houses, passed in conformity with the provisions of the constitution.

Qualified property, is that which depends on temporary possession, as that in wild animals reclaimed.

QUALIFIEDNESS, n. The state of being qualified or fitted.

QUALIFIER, n. He or that which qualifies; that which modifies, reduces, tempers or restrains.

QUALIFY, v.t. [L. qualis, such, and facio, to make.]

1. To fit for any place, office, occupation or character; to furnish with the knowledge, skill or other accomplishment necessary for a purpose; as, to qualify a man for a judge, for a minister of state or of the gospel, for a general or admiral. Holiness alone can qualify men for the society of holy beings.

2. To make capable of any employment or privilege; to furnish with legal power or capacity; as, in England, to qualify a man to kill game.

3. To abate; to soften; to diminish; as, to qualify the rigor of a statute.

I do no seek to quench your love’s hot fire, but qualify the fire’s extreme rage.

4. To ease; to assuage.

5. To modify; to restrain; to limit by exceptions; as, to qualify words or expressions, or to qualify the sense of words or phrases.

6. To modify; to regulate; to vary; as, to qualify sounds.

QUALIFYING, ppr. Furnishing with the necessary qualities, properties or accomplishments for a place, station or business; furnishing with legal power; abating; tempering; modifying; restraining.

QUALITY, n. [L. qualitas, from qualis, such.]

1. Property; that which belongs to a body or substance, or can be predicated of it. Qualities are natural or accidental. thus whiteness is a natural quality of snow; softness is a natural quality of wool and fur; hardness is a natural quality of metals and wood; figure and dimension are the natural qualities of solids; but a particular figure, as a cube, a square or a sphere, is an accidental or adventitious quality. The fluidity of metals is an accidental quality. Essential qualities are such as are necessary to constitute a thing what it is. Sensible qualities are such as are perceptible to the senses, as the light of the sun, the color of cloth, the taste of salt or sugar, etc.

2. Nature, relatively considered; as the quality of an action, in regard to right and wrong.

Other creatures have not judgment to examine the quality of that which is done by them.

3. Virtue or particular power of producing certain effects; as the qualities of plants or medicines.

4. Disposition; temper.

Tonight we’ll wander through the streets, and note the qualities of people.

5. Virtue or vice; as good qualities, or bad qualities.

6. Acquirement; accomplishment; as the qualities of horsemanship, dancing and fencing.

7. Character.

The attorney partakes of both qualities, that of a judge of the court, and that of attorney general.

8. Comparative rank; condition in relation to others; as people of every quality.

We obtained acquaintance with many citizens, not of the meanest quality.

9. Superior rank; superiority of birth or station; as persons of quality; ladies of quality.

10. Persons of high rank, collectively.

I shall appear at the masquerade dressed up in my feathers, that the quality may see how pretty they will look in their traveling habits.

QUALM, n. quam.

1. A rising in the stomach, as it is commonly called; a fit of nausea, or a disposition or effort of the stomach to eject its contents.

2. A sudden fit or seizure of sickness at the stomach; a sensation of nausea; as qualms of heart-sickagony.

For who, without a qualm, hath ever look’d on holy garbage, though by Homer cook’d?

3. A scruple of conscience, or uneasiness of conscience.

QUALMISH, a. quamish. [supra.] Sick at the stomach; inclined to vomit; affected with nausea or sicklylanguor.


QUAMOCLIT, n. A plant of the genus Ipomoea.

QUANDARY, n. Doubt; uncertainty; a state of difficulty or perplexity.

QUANDARY, v.t. To bring into a state of uncertainty or difficulty. [Not used.]

QUANTITATIVE, a. [See Quantity.] Estimable according to quantity.

QUANTITIVE, a. [See Quantity.] Estimable according to quantity.

QUANTITY, n. [L. quantitas, from quantus, how much, or as much as.]

1. That property of any thing which may be increased or diminished.

This definition is defective, and as applicable to many other properties as to quantity. A definition strictly philosophical cannot be given. In common usage, quantity is a mass or collection of matter of indeterminate dimensions, but consisting of particles which cannot be distinguished, or which are not customarily distinguished, or which are considered in the aggregate. Thus we say, a quantity of earth, a quantity of water, a quantity of air, of light, of heat, of iron, of wood, of timber, of corn, of paper. But we do not say, a quantity of men, or of horses, or of houses; for as these are considered as separate individuals or beings, we call an assemblage of them, a number of multitude.

2. An indefinite extent of space.

3. A portion or part.

If I were sawed into quantities. [Not in use.]

4. a large portion; as a medicine taken in quantities, that is, in large quantities.

5. In mathematics, any thing which can be multiplied, divided or measured.

Thus mathematics is called the science of quantity. In algebra, quantities are known and unknown. Known quantities are usually represented by the first letters of the alphabet, as a, b, c, and unknown quantities are expressed by the last letters, x, y, z, etc. Letters thus used to represent quantities are themselves called quantities. A simple quantity is expressed by one term, as + a, or - abc; a compound is expressed by more terms than one, connected by the signs, + plus, or -minus, as a + b, or a - b + c. quantities which have the sign + prefixed, are called positive or affirmative; those which have the sign - prefixed are called negative.

6. In grammar, the measure of a sullable; that which determines the time in which it is pronounced.

7. In logic, a category, universal, or predicament; a general conception.

8. In music, the relative duration of a note or syllable.

Quantity of matter, in a body, is the measure arising from the joint consideration of its magnitude and density.

Quantity of motion, in a body, is the measure arising from the joint consideration of its quantity of matter and its velocity.

QUANTUM, n. [L.] The quantity; the amount.

Quantum meruit, in law, an action grounded on a promise that the defendant would pay to the plaintiff for his service as much as he should deserve.

Quantum valebat, an action to recover of the defendant for goods sold, as much as they were worth.

QUARANTINE, n. [L. quartus, fourth; Eng. quart. See Quart and Square.]

1. Properly, the space of forty days; appropriately, the term of forty days during which a ship arriving in port and suspected of being infected with a malignant, contagious disease, is obliged to forbear all intercourse with the city or place. Hence,

2. Restraint of intercourse to which a ship is subjected on the presumption that she may be infected, either for forty days or for any other limited term. It is customary for the proper officers to determine the period of restraint at their discretion, according to circumstances. Hence we hear of a quarantine of five days, of ten, of thirty, etc. as well as of forty. We say, a ship performs quarantine, or rides at quarantine. We also apply the word to persons. The passengers and crew perform quarantine.

3. In law, the period of forty days, during which the widow of a man dying seized of land, has the privilege of remaining to the mansion house.

QUARANTINE, v.t. To prohibit from intercourse with a city or its inhabitants; to compel to remain at a distance from shore for forty days, or for other limited period, on account of real or supposed infection; applied to ships, or to persons and goods.

QUARANTINED, pp. Restrained from communication with the shore for a limited period; as a ship or its crew and passengers.

QUARANTINING, ppr. Prohibiting from intercourse with the port; as a ship or its crew and passengers.