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, a leading contender for valedictorian of his high school, is a 208-month-old boy with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, and law. Adam would like to one day visit Tajikistan and just won an essay contest on linguistics!
The Etymology Nerd