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carillon (KAR-i-lon) noun

A set of stationary bells in a tower, usually played from a keyboard.

[From Late Latin quaternion, via Old French quarregnon (by fours) with reference to the fact that the original carillon consisted of four bells hung in the tower of a church.]

Things and people are often grouped in fours, giving rise to a number of four-based words other than carillon, such as square, quatrain, quadrille, quartan, and quaternary. Groups originally of four are also the basis for our words cadre, squad, and squadron. Cater-cornered derives from Middle English cater, meaning four at dice. Sometimes things are divided by four, as in farthing, quadrant, quart, quarter, quarto, and quadroon.

Less obvious words from the same Indo-European root from which all these words derive, *kwetwer-, include quarry, quarantine, and quarrel -- a tool with a square head and a square windowpane, not the argument, for which only two are required.

"Get down to Sydney University to experience a free carillon recital. Edward Grantham, honorary carillonist, the University of Sydney and the University of Sydney War Memorial Carillon are commemorating the 197 staff and students who died in World War I." Things To Do; The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney, Australia); Aug 4, 2002.

"The original Bournville today still has its idyllic village green, flanked by twee half-timbered shops, red telephone boxes and a church with a carillon that chimes out popular hymns at regular intervals." Chris Arnot; Poetic justice: Dylan Thomas collaborating with Quakers?; The Guardian (London, UK); Mar 28, 2001.

This week's theme: words based on numbers by guest wordsmith Stewart Edelstein.


Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does Nature, because in her inventions, nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous. -Leonardo da Vinci, painter, engineer, musician, and scientist (1452-1519)

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