...or, to phrase it differently, like one of those silly SAT questions... please help me fill in this blank:

4 is to 5 as "quadrant" is to ????

(Does that make sense?)

  • What is a SAT question? Anyway, tell us the context where you would use the "5" instead of quadrant. – Alenanno Apr 8 '11 at 19:31
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    It makes sense that you would not be familiar with this, @Alenanno, but he's talking about the analogies section of the test formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT I), that commonly used as a required entrance exam for entrance into university in the United States. – Uticensis Apr 8 '11 at 19:34
  • Yes-- what Billare said, exactly. The context is something like "Which quadrant of the map are you targeting?" -- except there's 5 sections of the map. – Eric Apr 9 '11 at 17:26

Though a very rare word, that would be a quintant.

  • I thought about it... OED says it's obsolete, no wonder I couldn't found it anywhere... :D – Alenanno Apr 8 '11 at 19:35
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    @Alenanno However obsolete, a quintant is a navigational device. Similar to a sextant or an octant, a quintant has a length that is 1/5 of a 360° circle, and is divided into five 72° sections. – HaL Apr 8 '11 at 19:45
  • Yes I "knew" it was the fifth part of a circle, when reading the "quadrant" definition, but I wasn't aware there a word for it... – Alenanno Apr 8 '11 at 23:14

Though "quintant" seems more correct to me for English Language, in practical English Usage the answer is, surprisingly, quadrant.

For example, the city of Portland, Oregon, US, is divided into five parts that they still call "quadrants:"

Folks in the city of Richmond, Virginia, USA also refers to five quadrants when discussing results of a poll by a small business association:
Richmond quadrants

Extending beyond the map example OP asked about, a company called JDA also announces and reports itself as "the only company recognized as a leader in ALL FIVE Gartner Supply Chain Magic Quadrants!"
Five Gartner quadrants

Finally, looking at Google Ngrams, "quintants" is not found in use (in Google's English corpus) even going back to 1800 while "five quadrants" is more common, not even counting instances where there are descriptive words between the two terms: Ngrams result

  • Is this not just a modern malapropism of the word quadrant? It has fallen in to the vernacular while quintant (and perhaps its equivalents) hasn't; while your evidence is admirable, surely they are all instances of the word being forced into a situation for which it was not originally designed? On the other hand, of course, this is how language evolves, who am I to try and stop it… – BladorthinTheGrey Aug 10 '16 at 22:11
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    @BladorthinTheGrey It was a surprise to me too...but this is about English usage in practice documenting what is rather than what we might think "should be." – WBT Aug 10 '16 at 22:30
  • I would never use this, but +1 for a well-researched and presented answer. – ApproachingDarknessFish Aug 25 '17 at 1:11
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    Quadrant is close to quarter (the French quartier is also used in English in this sense) which is used to mean area. For example Latin quarter. Given this closeness it's perhaps not surprising that quadrant can mean area – Chris H Aug 25 '17 at 6:39

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