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

  • n. Any of a group of six elementary particles having electric charges of a magnitude one-third or two-thirds that of the electron, regarded as constituents of all hadrons. See Table at subatomic particle.
  • n. A soft creamy acid-cured cheese of central Europe made from whole milk.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. In the Standard Model, an elementary subatomic particle which forms matter. Quarks are never found alone in nature and combine to form hadrons, such as protons and neutrons.
  • n. a soft creamy cheese. The Russian quark and Finnish quark are somewhat different. The Russian version is firmer in consistency and contains about 15% milk fat, whereas the Finnish quark often contains less than 1% milk fat.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Same as quawk.

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

  • n. fresh unripened cheese of a smooth texture made from pasteurized milk, a starter, and rennet
  • n. (physics) hypothetical truly fundamental particle in mesons and baryons; there are supposed to be six flavors of quarks (and their antiquarks), which come in pairs; each has an electric charge of +2/3 or -1/3


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

From Three quarks for Muster Mark!, a line in Finnegans Wake by James Joyce.
German, from Middle High German quarc, from Lower Sorbian twarog, from Old Church Slavonic tvarogŭ.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

First used in 1963 by the discoverer of quarks, Murray Gell-Mann, to name these new particles. The literary connection to James Joyce's Finnegans Wake was asserted later (quote below).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

German Quark, from Middle High German quarc


  • Seeing the word "quark" in James Joyce's "Finnegan's Wake" induced him to make the spelling change.

    Week in Words

  • The “beauty” quark is particularly good for probing this question because b-quarks and anti-b-quarks behave “more differently” than other particles and their antimatter counterparts.

    B is for Beauty

  • The heaviest known elementary particle, the top quark is one of the fundamental building blocks of nature and understood to be an ingredient of the nuclear soup just after the Big Bang.


  • When the neutrino beam method was invented by the Columbia team at the beginning of the 1960s the quark concept was still unknown, and the method has only later become important in quark research.

    Press Release: The 1988 Nobel Prize in Physics

  • But to understand the structure of the new psi particle a fourth quark is very likely necessary, in the opinion of many researchers.

    Press Release: The 1976 Nobel Prize in Physics

  • The result is what researchers call a quark-gluon plasma QGP, which hasn't been present in significant quantities since shortly after the origin of the Universe.

    Ars Technica

  • In both cases, the top quark is short-lived and decays, for example, into a bottom quark, a lepton (such as a muon) and a neutrino. - latest science and technology news stories

  • Actually, the word quark is in the OED as a verb meaning ` croak, 'with 19th-century references to frogs, rooks, and herons.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol XI No 4

  • He is perhaps best known for borrowing the word quark from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake ( "Three quarks for Muster Mark") and giving it a radically new meaning.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol XII No 3

  • Had Gell-Mann been a Lewis Carroll enthusiast, he might have named his hypothetical particles snarks; but instead he borrowed the word quark from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol III No 3


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "Oi, quark is listed in the OED as a verb", he croaked hoarsely.

    October 24, 2011

  • A soft white unaged cheese of Eastern Europe. Not to be confused with Quark in Germany, which is more akin to yoghurt. Also qvark.

    January 30, 2010

  • A Secret Squirrel cartoon featured an evil, sentient quark as a villain. He was flattening the United States one structure at at time, destroying structures by pulling out the bottom atom. He planned to turn the country into a parking lot, then flatten Canada to make room for a giant amphitheater...where he would perform. The best part was the way he was defeated...Secret pointed out that quarks are defined as hypothetical particles, so he didn't really exist. Thus, he disappeared in a puff of logic.

    September 7, 2009

  • (fd) A fission boat.

    (Thanks R Thomas)

    January 22, 2008

  • I'm down with what you're saying Sionnach, that quarks have a certain charm, although that sounds pretty strange. You're usually on top of such things, and cut straight to what's up and getting to the bottom of such things. Hopefully bashing WordNet is just a flavor of the week, since it isn't actually a dictionary.

    December 3, 2007

  • @sionnach: I apologise for my ignorant apostrophe: consider it removed.

    December 2, 2007

  • I didn't know that Joyce invented quarks. Hail Wordie!

    December 2, 2007

  • SoG. Yes it does, courtesy of Murray Gell-Mann. Though, for reasons which are obscure (to me, at any rate), the name of Joyce's magnum opus/convoluted practical joke on scholars is written without an apostrophe.

    December 2, 2007

  • I believe the word comes from Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce.

    December 2, 2007

  • I think quarks have a certain je ne sais quoi, how you say it, charm.

    Unless you are in Germany where quark is just another name for a faintly gritty yogurt-like substance.

    December 2, 2007

  • But it's not a true hypothesis--it's a hypothetical, truly fundamental particle... or am I misunderstanding?

    Ah, who cares. It's still WeirdNet.

    December 2, 2007

  • I'm fascinated by true hypotheses. I sprinkle them in the garden between the gnomes.

    December 2, 2007