You know how, on a six-sided die, the number five is represented with five dots in a sort of "x" formation? Yeah, that particular geometric arrangement is called a quincunx. The word's origin is quite interesting: it means "five-twelfths", because in the times of the Romans, a quincunx was worth 5/12 of a bronze coin. This was often notated using that cross-shaped pattern which is so familiar to us today. Eventually, the word lost its connection with the denominator, because it was more commonly associated with the symbol. Quincunx is a portmanteau of the words quinque, meaning "five" (through Proto-Italic kenke, this is from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction penke, with the same meaning), and unus, meaning "one" (from Proto-Indo-European oynos, through Proto-Italic oinos). Now you know.
Adam Aleksic is a 217-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, and law. Adam is anxiously awaiting his college rejections and loves writing about himself in the third person.
The Etymology Nerd