Definition of quintain in English:



  • 1A post set up as a mark in tilting with a lance, typically with a sandbag attached that would swing round and strike an unsuccessful tilter.

    • ‘The medieval mood prevails throughout Friday and Saturday, with carols in the old Yarn Market, craft stalls in the castle grounds and a piggyback quintain tournament at 7.30 pm on Saturday - tots for knights, dads for steeds.’
    • ‘The object of the exercise was to strike the quintain hard enough to knock it all the way over, beyond its projecting braces, onto its shield backs.’
    • ‘Among the myriad of skills to be mastered, was tilting at the quintain.’
    1. 1.1the quintain The medieval military exercise of tilting at a quintain.


Late Middle English: from Old French quintaine, perhaps based on Latin quintana, a street in a Roman camp separating the fifth and sixth maniples, where military exercises were performed (from quintus ‘fifth’).