Where does the “quint” in “quintessential” come from?

Doesn’t “quint” mean “five”? What does that have to do with the meaning of “quintessential”?


“Essence” in this context is a synonym for “element”, and “essential” for “elemental”. In pre-atomic theory, there were four “known” elements or essences — Earth, Air, Fire and Water — and a putative fifth element (quinta essentia). The fifth element was believed to be superior to the others, and so, “quintessential” has come to mean something that is superior.

Source : Link , Question Author : Daniel LeCheminant , Answer Author : Michael Scott Shappe

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