Definitions

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

  • n. The higher division of the seven liberal arts in the Middle Ages, composed of geometry, astronomy, arithmetic, and music.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The higher division of the seven liberal arts in the Middle Ages, composed of geometry, astronomy, arithmetic, and music.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The four “liberal arts,” arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy; -- so called by the schoolmen. See trivium.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The collective name of the four branches of mathematics according to the Pythagoreans—arithmetic (treating of number in itself), music (treating of applied number), geometry (treating of stationary number), and astronomy (treating of number in motion).
  • n. A place where four ways meet.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (Middle Ages) a higher division of the curriculum in a medieval university involving arithmetic and music and geometry and astronomy

Etymologies

Late Latin, from Latin, place where four roads meet : quadri-, quadri- + via, road; see via.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Medieval Latin quadrivium ("the four mathematical studies"), from Latin quattuor ("four") + via ("road"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Boethius seems to have been the first to use the term quadrivium, joining music with the mathematical arts of arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy.

    MUSICAL GENIUS

  • The traditional quadrivium is essentially the study of pattern, harmony, symmetry and order in nature and mathematics viewed as a reflection of the Divine Order.

    David Clayton on the Way of Beauty at Thomas More College, New Hampshire

  • B1 is thus the earliest text to identify the set of sciences that became known as the quadrivium in the middle ages and that constitute four of the seven liberal arts.

    Archytas

  • He was the first to identify the group of four canonical sciences (logistic [arithmetic], geometry, astronomy and music), which would become known as the quadrivium in the middle ages.

    Archytas

  • Wisdom is then knowledge of these two forms, which are studied by the four sciences, which will later be known as the quadrivium: arithmetic, music, geometry and astronomy.

    Pythagoreanism

  • At the corner of the quadrivium is the apothecary's shop, in which was a large collection of surgical instruments, mortars, drugs, and pills.

    Museum of Antiquity A Description of Ancient Life

  • The curriculum of studies in the monastic schools comprised the trivium and quadrivium, that is to say, grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and the theory of music.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 13: Revelation-Stock

  • The regular list of studies that came to be adopted everywhere comprised seven nominal branches, divided into two groups -- the so-called quadrivium, comprising music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy; and the trivium comprising grammar, rhetoric, and logic.

    A History of Science: in Five Volumes. Volume II: The Beginnings of Modern Science

  • What I had described in my interview were the principles of the quadrivium, the ‘four ways’ (the higher part of the traditional seven liberal arts).

    David Clayton on the Way of Beauty at Thomas More College, New Hampshire

  • Like di Giorgio, who emphasized the importance of the quadrivium for architecture, Pacioli declared that the defense of a republic was not possible without knowledge of arithmetic, geometry, and proportion, since all artillery instruments and military machines are the products of the discipline of mathematics.

    Architecture and Memory: The Renaissance Studioli of Federico da Montefeltro

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