Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


 (kwŏt′ər-nĕr′ē, kwə-tûr′nə-rē)
1. Consisting of four; in fours.
2. Quaternary Of, relating to, or being the period of geologic time from about 2.6 million years ago to the present, the more recent of the two periods of the Cenozoic Era. It is characterized by the appearance and development of humans and includes the Pleistocene and Holocene Epochs. See Table at geologic time.
3. Chemistry Relating to a nonhydrogen atom bonded to four other nonhydrogen atoms, especially to four carbon atoms: a quaternary nitrogen atom.
n. pl. qua·ter·nar·ies
1. The number four.
2. The member of a group that is fourth in order.
3. Quaternary The Quaternary Period.

[Latin quaternārius, from quaternī, by fours, from quater, four times; see kwetwer- in Indo-European roots.]


1. consisting of fours or by fours
2. fourth in a series
3. (Chemistry) chem containing or being an atom bound to four other atoms or groups: a quaternary ammonium compound.
4. (Mathematics) maths having four variables
n, pl -naries
the number four or a set of four
[C15: from Latin quaternārius each containing four, from quaternī by fours, distributive of quattuor four]


(Geological Science) of, denoting, or formed in the most recent period of geological time, which succeeded the Tertiary period nearly two million years ago
(Geological Science) the Quaternary the Quaternary period or rock system, divided into Pleistocene and Holocene (Recent) epochs or series


(ˈkwɒt ərˌnɛr i, kwəˈtɜr nə ri)

adj., n., pl. -nar•ies. adj.
1. consisting of four.
2. arranged in fours.
3. (cap.) of or pertaining to the present period of earth history forming the latter part of the Cenozoic Era, originating about two million years ago, and including the Recent and Pleistocene Epochs.
4. a group of four.
5. the number four.
6. (cap.) the Quaternary Period or System.
[1400–50; late Middle English < Latin quaternārius consisting of four =quatern(ī) four at a time + -ārius -ary]


The second and last period of the Cenozoic Era, from about 2 million years ago to the present, characterized by the appearance of humans. See Chart at geologic time.


 four things collectively; a group of four facts or circumstances. Also quaternion.
Examples: quaternion of earth, air, water, and fire, 1695; of English writers—Shakespeare, Hooker, Bacon, Jeremy Taylor, 1868; of topics, 1648.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.quaternary - last 2 million yearsQuaternary - last 2 million years      
Age of Mammals, Cenozoic, Cenozoic era - approximately the last 63 million years
Holocene, Holocene epoch, Recent, Recent epoch - approximately the last 10,000 years
Pleistocene, Pleistocene epoch, Glacial epoch - from two million to 11 thousand years ago; extensive glaciation of the northern hemisphere; the time of human evolution
2.quaternary - the cardinal number that is the sum of three and onequaternary - the cardinal number that is the sum of three and one
digit, figure - one of the elements that collectively form a system of numeration; "0 and 1 are digits"
Adj.1.quaternary - consisting of or especially arranged in sets of four; "quaternate leaves"; "a quaternary compound"
multiple - having or involving or consisting of more than one part or entity or individual; "multiple birth"; "multiple ownership"; "made multiple copies of the speech"; "his multiple achievements in public life"; "her multiple personalities"; "a pineapple is a multiple fruit"
2.quaternary - coming next after the third and just before the fifth in position or time or degree or magnitudequaternary - coming next after the third and just before the fifth in position or time or degree or magnitude; "the quaternary period of geologic time extends from the end of the tertiary period to the present"
ordinal - being or denoting a numerical order in a series; "ordinal numbers"; "held an ordinal rank of seventh"


A. ADJcuaternario
B. Ncuaternario m


adj (Geol) → quartär; (Chem) → quaternär, aus vier Teilen bestehend
n (Geol) → Quartär nt
References in classic literature ?
A naturalist, struck by a parallelism of this nature in any one class, by arbitrarily raising or sinking the value of the groups in other classes (and all our experience shows that this valuation has hitherto been arbitrary), could easily extend the parallelism over a wide range; and thus the septenary, quinary, quaternary, and ternary classifications have probably arisen.
2008a, Climatically controlled river terrace staircases: A worldwide Quaternary phenomenon, Geomorphology, 98, 285-315.
It is comprised of a cationic polymer comprising cationic protonated amine or quaternary' ammonium functionalities comprising dialkylaminoalkyl acrylates, dialkylaminoalkyl methacrylates, monoalkylaminoalkyl acrylates, monoalkylamino alkyl methacrylates, trialkyl methacryloxyalkyl ammonium sails, trialkyl acryloxyalkyl ammonium salts, diallyl quaternary ammonium salts, pyridinium moeities, imidazolium moeities, quaternized pyrrolidone moeities, and mixture thereof; an encapsulated anionic colorant selected from the group consisting of FD&C Yellow 5, D&CYellow 10, D&C Red 33, D&C Green 5, D&CYellow 8, D&C Red 28, and mixtures thereof; and an aqueous carrier; wherein the cationic polymer forms a coacervate with the encapsulated anionic colorant.
This issue of the Estonian Journal of Earth Sciences includes selected papers focusing on different aspects of Quaternary geology in the Baltic region.
Past studies with cosmetics have found that substances called quaternary amines, which are also ingredients in household cleaning agents, may play a role in the formation of nitrosamines.
The Accela 600 HPLC and Accela 1000 UHPLC quaternary solvent delivery systems enable rapid method development while reducing solvent consumption.
Like many marine Quaternary geologists, I work with colleagues whose science has informed the assessments of scientific literature made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Quaternary stereocenters; challenges and solutions for organic synthesis.
Hopkins, a Quaternary geologist widely known for his broad-ranging studies of the Bering Land Bridge region ("Beringia"), passed away at his home in Menlo Park, California, on November 2, 2001.
The researchers tracked episodes of worker illness and injury related to five classes of disinfectants: halogens including hypochlorites (bleach and its relatives), quaternary ammonium compounds (hard-surface cleaners that impede bacterial growth at high dilution), phenolic agents (including coal tar disinfectants such as Lysol), products containing pine oils (added more for their "clean" scent than their cleansing properties), and "unspecified" agents (where the identity of the specific disinfectant was not determined).
In their study, published in the September Quaternary Research, the researchers use dates from both methods to estimate that the calcite veil is about 9,900 years old.
Crypton fabric freshener is a neutral quaternary disinfectant that safely removes odors after incontinence cleanups.