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I found the word quadrants in the opening of a New York Times Opinion column, titled This Just In… President Obama Is an American Citizen.

Its opening paragraph:

President Obama is not a foreigner. He is not secretly a Muslim. Those are the facts, but they do not seem to matter in many quadrants of the Republican Party.

Oxford Dictionary defines quadrant simply as

  1. a quarter of a circle of its circumference
  2. an instrument for measuring angles (and that was my understanding)

However, quadrants seems to be used with a different meaning, here. Does it mean members, supporters or sectors?

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3 Answers

up vote 14 down vote accepted

It is being used in the sense of "areas", "divisions" or "segments". While a whole can only have four quadrants when the word is used correctly, people who spend a lot of time exploring the thesaurus for words that don't seem overused often don't care much about the precision of their language. (One need only look at a handful of poems written for high school English assignments to see how badly a thesaurus can be misused.)

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It means that those facts don't seem to matter to all the members of the Republican Party.

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Kiamialuno. The theory is when there are many (4 are enough) quadrants, quadrants become all (4/4). Well, I think I got the message. –  Yoichi Oishi Feb 21 '11 at 2:33
    
@Yoichi Oishi: Many quadrants is just an exaggeration; it should not be taken literally, as many other expressions and way of saying used in newspapers (and magazines). The style used from the media is to use common, or less common expressions, in a context different from the one people could expect. –  kiamlaluno Feb 21 '11 at 8:36
    
People also sometimes speak (very loosely) of the "quarters" of an orange, when they are referring to "segments". –  mickeyf Feb 21 '11 at 15:13
    
That's not what the word "quadrants" means, in this or any other context. –  Ben Voigt Jun 14 '11 at 13:14
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I think there's possibly a Star Trek reference here. There's much talk in the different Star Trek sequels of activity in the Gamma or Delta quadrant, places so far out in the universe that it is difficult to get accurate reports of what happens there.

If the writer was thinking this way, this may be a way of hinting how alien he believes these ways of thinking are.

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