A quincunx is a geometric pattern consisting of five points arranged in a cross:

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This seems like a very specific name derived from the Latin root for five (quin). Are there other geometric arrangements with similar related names that were derived the same way, or is quincunx unique?

  • This really seems like a list request to me--could you possibly rewrite a bit?
    – user10893
    Oct 25, 2012 at 18:36
  • 1
    Please clarify what you mean by "geometric arrangements". Are you also specifically looking only for Latin-based words and only mystic symbols? Oct 25, 2012 at 19:07
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    I’ve found a few interesting ones to go with quincunx: semunce, sextile, semisextile, tetronkion, pentonkion, sequiquadrate. There is also some connection with NAND I am still tracking down.
    – tchrist
    Oct 25, 2012 at 19:33

2 Answers 2


I believe that tetractys should match this request.

Tetractys is a triangular figure consisting of ten points arranged in four rows, which is the geometrical representation of the fourth triangular number.

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    Tetra- would make it of Greek origin while quin- is Latin. I'm not sure if the OP is particular about this. But it might be worth noting in your answer. Interesting stuff. Oct 25, 2012 at 19:00

“Similar related names that were derived the same way” is unfortunately ambiguous, but if you mean are there other geometric arrangements with names formed by prefixing a Latin geometric term with a Latin numeric prefix, the answer is yes. For example, from etymonline, triangle derived “from O.Fr. triangle (13c.), from L. triangulum “triangle,” from neut. of adj. triangulus “three-cornered,” from tri- “three” (see tri-) + angulus “corner, angle”, and quadrangle “from O.Fr. quadrangle (13c.), from L.L. quadrangulum “four-sided figure,” properly neuter of Latin adjective quadrangulus “having four quarters,” from L. quattuor “four” (see four) + angulus “angle”. Pentagon and nonagon also are from Latin. However, pentangle and hexagon are from the Greek.

  • Sorry I wasn't more precise. I am aware of the names of geometric figures. I was hoping to get names of geometric arrangements.
    – nohat
    Oct 25, 2012 at 20:34
  • Pentagon looks Greek at both ends
    – Henry
    Oct 25, 2012 at 21:13
  • @Henry, I agree, but the etymonline pentagon entry suggests it arrived in English via Latin. Oct 25, 2012 at 22:39
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    @nohat, a geometric arrangement consists of lines (or hyperplanes), not of points. Points form geometric configurations, not arrangements. See sections 1.1 and 1.3 of Edelsbrunner's Algorithms in Combinatorial Geometry. Oct 25, 2012 at 22:53
  • I didn't mean any technical definition of "geometric arrangement"; I was just referring to the idea that a quincunx describes how five items might be arranged in a geometric pattern, such as dots on the side of a die, whereas a triangle describes a shape. I use these words in their lay meanings—the senses you would find in an ordinary dictionary.
    – nohat
    Oct 25, 2012 at 23:26

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