Sound value and occurrence(1) In English, q has the same value as k or hard c, and is generally followed by u, with the joint pronunciation /kw/: quaint, quibble. (2) Loss of /w/ in French led to spelling changes that obscure the common ancestry of such English/French pairs as quash/casser, quire/cahier. On the other hand, English has developed qu in words that in French had, and still have, cu: esquire/écuyer, squirrel/écureuil. (3) In English, qu typically occurs word-initially before a, e, i, o (quack, quash, quail, quest, queer, quit, quite, quote) and after s (squat, squeal, squirrel). (4) Medial qu also occurs: adequate, banquet, equal, frequent, liquid, request. (5) When the Latin prefix ad- precedes qu, it is assimilated as ac: acquaint, acquire, acquit. However, initial a sometimes also precedes qu without c (aquatic, aquiline) with no distinction in pronunciation.
Exotic Q, QU(1) Though rarely so used, q without u has the same value as k and as c before a, o, u. It is used as a TRANSLITERATION of the HEBREW letter quph and ARABIC qaf (cognate with Phoenician qop), both uvular plosives given the value /k/ in everyday English: Iraq, qaf, Qatar, Qur'ān (Koran). (2) In the Pinyin script for Chinese, q represents the ch sound in cheese, as in Qian-long, Qin-huang-dao: see CHINA. (3) Words that have entered English in recent centuries from Romance languages have mostly kept the value of qu as /k/: word-finally with e (arabesque, grotesque, mosque, opaque, picturesque, unique), medially (bouquet, coquette, mosquito), and occasionally initially (quiche, but not queue), especially in names (Quezon City in the Philippines). The recent French LOAN questionnaire is sometimes pronounced with /k/, but usually with /kw/ by ANALOGY with the earlier loan question. Quay is an 18c respelling of kay or key, by analogy with French quai. There is an alternation between /kw/ in conquest (compare quest, request) and liquid, and /k/ in conquer/conqueror and liquor. (4) In the ACRONYMS Qantas (Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services) and QARANC ( Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps) the q is pronounced as /kw/, as if followed by a u: ‘Kwontas’, ‘Kwarank’. (5) Forms with medial cqu pronounced /k/, include: lacquer, lacquey (now lackey), and racquet (also racket). (6) AmE generally has bark, check, licorice where BrE keeps the q in barque, cheque, liquorice.
Q1 / kyoō/ (also q) • n. (pl. Qs or Q's ) the seventeenth letter of the alphabet. ∎ denoting the next after P in a set of items, categories, etc. PHRASES: mind one's Ps and Qssee mind.Q2 • abbr. ∎ quarter (used to refer to a specified quarter of the fiscal year): we expect to have an exceptional Q4. ∎ queen (used esp. in describing card games and recording moves in chess): 17.Qb4. ∎ question: Q: What's the problem? A: I don't feel well. ∎ Theol. denoting the hypothetical source of the passages shared by the gospels of Matthew and Luke, but not found in Mark.
1. See KÖNIGSBERGER RATIO.
2. The ratio of the frequency at the mid-point of a bandpass filter to the filter width.
3. The ratio of the peak energy in a waveform to the energy lost by dissipation. As a measure of seismic absorption it has been used effectively in delimiting Benioff zones using natural earthquake events (high Q implies low absorption and is associated with crust and deep mantle; low Q implies high absorption and is associated with the subcrustal low-velocity layer.
Q was the pseudonym of the English writer and critic Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863–1944), which he originally adopted as a student at Oxford when writing parodies of English poets for the Oxford Magazine.
Q also denotes the hypothetical source of the passages shared by the gospels of Matthew and Luke, but not found in Mark; Q here probably comes from German Quelle ‘source’.
In the James Bond films, Q is the name of the elderly technician responsible for the development of Bond's customized cars and other gadgets.
See also mind one's P's and Q's.
• (ital.) Physics, symbol for electric charge
• (bold ital.; or qi) Maths., symbol for a generalized coordinate
• (ital.) Chem., symbol for partition function (individual entity)
• Physics, symbol for quark
• (ital.) symbol for quintal (100 kg)
• (ital.) Meteorol., symbol for specific humidity
• Meteorol., symbol for squall