Definition of quintain in US English:



  • 1A post set up as a mark in tilting with a lance, typically with a sandbag attached that would swing around 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.’
    • ‘Among the myriad of skills to be mastered, was tilting at the quintain.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’).