Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Printing A piece of type metal lower than the raised typeface, used for filling spaces and blank lines. Also called quad2.
  • n. Ecology Any of a group of small, usually rectangular plots of land arranged for close study of the distribution of plants or animals in an area.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A rectangular area of land, marked for studying its plants, animals, soil, natural processes, etc.
  • n. A quad; a blank metal block used to fill space in lines of type.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A block of type metal lower than the letters, -- used in spacing and in blank lines.
  • n. An old instrument used for taking altitudes; -- called also geometrical square, and line of shadows.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • See quadrate.
  • n. In printing, a blank type for the larger blank spaces in or at the end of printed lines, cast lower in height, so that it shall not be inked or impressed: made in four forms for all text type—en, em, two-em, three-em. Usually abbreviated to quad.
  • n. The low quadrat, for letterpress work, is about three fourths of an inch high: the high quadrat, for stereotype work, is about ten twelfths of an inch high.
  • n. An instrument furnished with sights, a plummet, and an index, and used for measuring altitudes, but superseded by more perfect instruments in modern use. Also called geometrical square, and line of shadows.
  • n. A series or set of four.
  • n. In experimental agriculture, a square area of convenient size laid off for the purpose of accurate planting.
  • n. In phytogeography, a similar square laid off for close study of the relative abundance of species or of other questions.

Etymologies

Middle English, a square geometric instrument, rectangular area; see quadrate.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin quadrātum. (Wiktionary)
1683. Probably from French cadrat or Italian quadrato ("square"), originally from Latin quadrātum ("square"). So called because the basic quadrat, the em quadrat, has a square face, having the same width as the height of a line of type. (Wiktionary)

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