One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(especially in architecture) an ornamental design having six leaves or petals radiating from a common centre.
- ‘The general obverse type is of a crowned and bearded portrait inside a triangle with a hand holding a sceptre to the left and a cinquefoil or sexfoil to the right.’
- ‘It is circular with a sexfoil depression.’
Late 17th century: from sexi- ‘six’, on the pattern of words such as trefoil.
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