1560s, "plane figure with five angles and five sides," from French pentagone (13c.) or directly from Late Latin pentagonum "pentagon," from Greek pentagōnon, a noun use of the neuter of the adjective pentagōnos "five-angled," from pente "five" (from PIE root *penkwe- "five") + gōnia "angle, corner" (from PIE root *genu- (1) "knee; angle"). The U.S. military headquarters known as the Pentagon was completed in 1942, and so called for its shape; used allusively for "U.S. military leadership" from 1945; Pentagonese "U.S. official military jargon" is by 1951. Related: Pentagonal.
In nature, pentagonal symmetry is rare in inanimate forms. Packed soap bubbles seem to strive for it but never quite succeed, and there are no mineral crystals with true pentagonal structures. But pentagonal geometry is basic to many living things, from roses and forget-me-nots to sea urchins and starfish. [Robert Bringhurst, "The Elements of Typographic Style," 1992]
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "knee; angle."
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit janu, Avestan znum, Hittite genu "knee;" Greek gony "knee," gōnia "corner, angle;" Latin genu "knee;" Old English cneo, cneow "knee."
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "five."
It forms all or part of: cinquain; cinque; cinquecento; cinquefoil; fifteen; fifth; fifty; fin (n.) "five-dollar bill;" finger; fist; five; foist; keno; parcheesi; penta-; pentacle; pentad; Pentateuch; Pentecost; pentagon; pentagram; pentameter; pentathlon; Pentothal; Pompeii; Punjab; punch (n.2) "type of mixed drink;" quinary; quincunx; quinella; quinque-; quinquennial; quint; quintain; quintet; quintile; quintessence; quintillion; quintuple.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit panca, Greek pente, Latin quinque, Old Church Slavonic pęti, Lithuanian penki, Old Welsh pimp, Old English fif, Dutch vijf, Old High German funf.
Two long-time Pentagon stand-bys are fly-speckers and nit-pickers. The first of these nouns refers to people whose sole occupation seems to be studying papers in the hope of finding flaws in the writing, rather than making any effort to improve the thought or meaning; nit-pickers are those who quarrel with trivialities of expression and meaning, but who usually end up without making concrete or justified suggestions for improvement. [Collier's, Nov. 24, 1951]