One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small five-stringed instrument with a fretted neck, combining features of both the viol and the violin, which originated in France in the 18th cent. Occasionally also applied to the pardessus de viole.
Late 19th century; earliest use found in George Grove (1820–1900), writer on music and lexicographer. From French quinton from either classical Latin quīntus fifth or French † quinte part of a string ensemble, type of stringed instrument, viola + -on.
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