"figure formed of four straight lines," 1640s, with -al (1) + Latin quadrilaterus, from quadri- "four" (from PIE root *kwetwer- "four") + latus (genitive lateris) "the side, flank of humans or animals, lateral surface," a word of uncertain origin. As an adjective, "four-sided, composed of four lines," from 1650s. Related: Quadrilaterally.
It forms all or part of: cadre; cahier; carillon; carrefour; catty-cornered; diatessaron; escadrille; farthing; firkin; fortnight; forty; four; fourteen; fourth; quadrant; quadraphonic; quadratic; quadri-; quadrilateral; quadriliteral; quadrille; quadriplegia; quadrivium; quadroon; quadru-; quadruped; quadruple; quadruplicate; quarantine; quarrel (n.2) "square-headed bolt for a crossbow;" quarry (n.2) "open place where rocks are excavated;" quart; quarter; quarterback; quartermaster; quarters; quartet; quarto; quaternary; quatrain; quattrocento; quire (n.1) "set of four folded pages for a book;" squad; square; tessellated; tetra-; tetracycline; tetrad; tetragrammaton; tetrameter; tetrarch; trapezium.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit catvarah, Avestan čathwaro, Persian čatvar, Greek tessares, Latin quattuor, Oscan petora, Old Church Slavonic četyre, Lithuanian keturi, Old Irish cethir, Welsh pedwar.
"quadrilateral whose opposite sides are parallel," 1560s, from French parallélogramme (1550s) and directly from Late Latin parallelogrammum, from Greek parallelogrammon noun use of a neuter adjective meaning "bounded by parallel lines," from parallelos (see parallel) + stem of graphein "to write" (see -graphy). Related: Parallelogrammic; parallelogramical.
in geometry, "quadrilateral plane figure having all its angles right and all its opposite sides equal," 1570s, from French rectangle (16c.), from rect-, combining form of Latin rectus "right" (from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line," with derivatives meaning "to direct in a straight line") + Old French angle (see angle (n.)). Late/Medieval Latin rectiangulum meant "a triangle having a right angle," noun use of neuter of rectiangulus "having a right angle." When the adjacent sides are equal, it is a square, but rectangle usually is limited to figures where adjacent sides are unequal.
early 14c., "plane figure having four equal sides and two acute and two obtuse angles," from Old French losenge "rhombus shape, diamond-shape" (as an ornamental motif in heraldry, etc.); "small square cake; windowpane," etc., a word used for many flat quadrilateral things (Modern French losange). It has cognates in Spanish losange, Catalan llosange, Italian lozanga, but the origin is disputed.
Probably from a pre-Roman Celtic language, perhaps Iberian *lausa or Gaulish *lausa "flat stone" (compare Provençal lausa, Spanish losa, Catalan llosa, Portuguese lousa "slab, tombstone"). From late 14c. as "diamond-shaped cake or wafer;" specific sense "small cake or tablet (originally diamond-shaped) of medicine and sugar, etc., meant to be held in the mouth and dissolved" is from 1520s.
The related words in Continental languages often have a sense "flattery, deceit" (compare Old French losengier "to praise unduly," losenge "flattery, false praise; deceitful friendliness"), which comes probably via the notion of square flat slabs of tombstones and their fulsome epithets. Some of this made its way into Middle English via French. Chaucer uses losenger "flatterer, deceiver;" losengerye "flattery."
"machine to measure and indicate time mechanically" (since late 1940s also electronically), late 14c., clokke, originally "clock with bells," probably from Middle Dutch clocke (Dutch klok) "a clock," from Old North French cloque (Old French cloke, Modern French cloche "a bell"), from Medieval Latin clocca "bell," which probably is from Celtic (compare Old Irish clocc, Welsh cloch, Manx clagg "a bell") and spread by Irish missionaries (unless the Celtic words are from Latin). Ultimately of imitative origin.
Wherever it actually arose, it was prob. echoic, imitating the rattling made by the early handbells of sheet-iron and quadrilateral shape, rather than the ringing of the cast circular bells of later date. [OED]
Replaced Old English dægmæl, from dæg "day" + mæl "measure, mark" (see meal (n.1)). The Latin word was horologium (source of French horologe, Spanish reloj, Italian oriolo, orologio); the Greeks used a water-clock (klepsydra, literally "water thief;" see clepsydra).
The image of put (or set) the clock back "return to an earlier state or system" is from 1862. Round-the-clock (adj.) is from 1943, originally in reference to air raids. To have a face that would stop a clock "be very ugly" is from 1886. (Variations from c. 1890 include break a mirror, kill chickens.)
I remember I remember
That boarding house forlorn,
The little window where the smell
Of hash came in the morn.
I mind the broken looking-glass,
The mattress like a rock,
The servant-girl from County Clare,
Whose face would stop a clock.
[... etc.; The Insurance Journal, January 1886]