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Alternative forms[edit]


An onyx quarry (etymology 1)

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English quarere, from Medieval Latin quarreria (1266), literally a “place where stones are squared”, from Old French quarrière (compare modern French carrière), from Vulgar Latin *quadraria, from Latin quadrō (I square), itself from quadra (a square), from quattuor (four), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *kʷetwóres (four).


quarry (plural quarries)

  1. (mining) A site for mining stone, limestone, or slate.
    Michelangelo personally quarried marble from the world-famous quarry at Carrara.
    • 1644, John Milton, Areopagitica; a Speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Vnlicenc’d Printing, to the Parlament of England, London: [s.n.], OCLC 879551664, page 32:
      Yet theſe are the men cry'd out againſt for ſchiſmaticks and ſectaries; as if, while the Temple of the Lord was building, ſome cutting, ſome ſquaring the marble, others hewing the cedars, there ſhould be a ſort of irrationall men who could not conſider there muſt be many ſchiſms and many diſſections made in the quarry and the timber, ere the houſe of God can be built.
    • 1670, Francis Lord Verulam, Viscount St. Alban [Francis Bacon], “Century V”, in Sylva Sylvarum, or, A Natural History, in Ten Centuries. Whereunto is Newly Added, the History Natural and Experimental of [Life] and Death, or of the Prolongation of Life. Published after the Authors Death. By William Rawley, Doctor in Divinity, One of His Majesties Chaplains. Whereunto is Added Articles of Inquiry, Touching Metals and Minerals. And the New Atlantis. As also the Life of the Right Honorable Francis Bacon, Never Added to this Book before. [...] With an Alphabetical Table of the Principal Things Contained in the Ten Centuries, 9th and last edition, London: Printed by J[ohn] R[edmayne] for William Lee, and are to be sold by George Sawbridg [et al.], OCLC 42391224, paragraph 850, page 183:
      There have been found certain Cements under Earth, that are very ſoft, and yet taken forth into the Sun, harden as hard as Marble: There are alſo ordinary Quarries in Sommerſet-shire, which in the Quarry cut ſoft to any bigneſs, and in the Building prove firm, and hard.
    • 1945 August 17, George Orwell [pseudonym; Eric Arthur Blair], chapter 6, in Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, London: Secker & Warburg, OCLC 3655473:
      There was a good quarry of limestone on the farm []
Derived terms[edit]
  • Irish: cairéal m
  • Welsh: chwarel m


quarry (third-person singular simple present quarries, present participle quarrying, simple past and past participle quarried)

  1. (transitive) To obtain (or mine) stone by extraction from a quarry.
    • 1794, James Donaldson, “Miscellaneous Observations and Hints for Improvement”, in General View of the Agriculture of the County of Elgin or Moray, Lying between the Spey and the Findhorn; including Part of Strathspey, in the County of Inverness. With Observations on the Means of Its Improvement, [...] Drawn up for the Consideration of the Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement, London: Printed by C. Clarke, OCLC 518202830, page 34:
      The incloſing of this country might alſo be effected, were the landlord to quarry the ſtones, and build the walls at his expence, and the tenant to carry the materials, and pay intereſt for the money advanced by the landlord.
    • 1847, George C. Furber, chapter IV, in The Twelve Months Volunteer; or, Journal of a Private in the Tennessee Regiment of Cavalry, in the Campaign in Mexico, 1846–7 [...] Engravings from Drawings by the Author, Cincinnati, Oh.: J. A. & U. P. James, OCLC 7602895; republished as The Twelve Months Volunteer: Journal of a Private in the Tennessee Regiment of Cavalry (Applewood's Military History Series), Bedford, Mass.: Applewood Publishers, 2009, →ISBN, page 150:
      The stone of which this town and church was built, is somewhat of the nature of "rotten limestone,"—is quite light in color,—quarries out regularly and easily,—is soft, when first quarried, but becomes hard on exposure to the air.
    • 1999, Stephen A. Aron, “‘The Poor Men to Starve’: The Lives and Times of Workingmen in Early Lexington”, in Craig Thompson Friend, editor, The Buzzel about Kentuck: Settling the Promised Land, Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, →ISBN, page 175:
      In Lexington, which was just then establishing itself as the principal town in Kentucky, he found work quarrying stone for a tavern keeper. Once again, the wages were low, and his employer "strove by every means in his power to take advantage of me."
    • 2008, Donna P. Hearn, “The Iron and Marble Industries”, in Dover (Images of America), Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, →ISBN, page 77:
      Today the extractive industry utilizes sand and gravel reserves and quarries stone in Wingdale.
  2. (figurative, transitive) To extract or slowly obtain by long, tedious searching.
    They quarried out new, interesting facts about ancient Egypt from old papyri.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English quyrrey, querre, curee, quirre, from Anglo-Norman quirreie, from Old French cuiriee (entrails of deer placed on the hide and given to dogs of the chase as a reward) (influenced by cuir (skin (of an animal)), from Latin corium (a hide)), from coree (entrails, viscera), from Vulgar Latin corata (entrails), from Latin cor (heart).


quarry (countable and uncountable, plural quarries)

  1. (uncountable, obsolete) A part of the entrails of a hunted animal, given to the hounds as a reward.
  2. (uncountable) An animal, often a bird or mammal, which is hunted.
    • 1692, Roger L’Estrange, “[A Supplement of Fables, out of Phædrus, Avienus, Camerarius, Neveletus, Apthethonius, Gabrias, Babrias, Abstemius, Alciatus, Boccalini, Baudoin, De la Fontaine, Æsope en Belle Humeur, Meslier, &c.] Fab[le] CCCCLXX. A Farmer and His Servant.”, in Fables, of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists: [], London: Printed for R[ichard] Sare, [], OCLC 228727523, page 445:
      Is it not our very Caſe now, that when our Souls, Good-Names, Bodies and Fortunes are at Stake, we muſt be running out at Check, after every Crow, Buzzard, or Jack-daw that comes in the way, and leave the main Chance at laſt at Six and Seven? Nay, and here's this more in't too, that the Quarry would not be worth the taking up neither, if we could Catch it; beſide, that it flies away ſtill before us, and is never to be Overtaken.
    • 2017 March, Jennifer S. Holland, “For These Monkeys, It’s a Fight for Survival”, in National Geographic[1], archived from the original on 3 May 2017:
      Nofi Raranta, 37, the town's main clove dealer, is also the top hunter, employing about a hundred men who comb the surrounding forests for quarry.
  3. (countable) An object of search or pursuit.
    • 1593, Tho[mas] Nashe, “The Foure Letters Confuted”, in The Apologie of Pierce Pennilesse. Or, Strange Newes, of the Intercepting Certaine Letters: [], Printed at London: By Iohn Danter, [], OCLC 222196160; republished as John Payne Collier, editor, Strange Newes, of the Intercepting Certaine Letters [] (Miscellaneous Tracts; Temp. Eliz. and Jac. I), [London: s.n., 1870], OCLC 906587369, page 73:
      In a verſe, when a worde of three ſillables cannot thruſt in but ſidelings, to joynt him even, we are oftentimes faine to borrowe ſome leſſer quarry of elocution from the Latine, alwaies retaining this for a principle, that a leake of indeſinence , as a leake in a ſhip, muſt needly be ſtopt with what matter ſoever.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Qveene. [], part II (books IV–VI), London: Printed [by Richard Field] for VVilliam Ponsonbie, OCLC 932900760, book VI, canto II, stanza 20, page 375:
      Meanwhile his Ladie, which this outrage ſaw, / Whileſt they together for the quarrey ſtroue, / Into the couert did her ſelfe withdrw, / And cloſely hid her ſelfe within the groue.
    • 2007 April 27, “US holds ‘senior al-Qaeda figure’”, in BBC News[2], archived from the original on 8 December 2016:
      A US State Department website advertised a reward of up to $1m (£500,000) for the capture of its quarry [Abdul Hadi al Iraqi], who was described as 5ft 11in (180cm) tall, with a pale complexion, "a moustache and a long, heavy beard that is starting to grey".


quarry (third-person singular simple present quarries, present participle quarrying, simple past and past participle quarried)

  1. To secure prey; to prey, as a vulture or harpy.
    • 1692, Roger L’Estrange, “[The Fables of Æsop, &c.] Fab[le] VI. A Dog and a Shadow.”, in Fables, of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists: [], London: Printed for R[ichard] Sare, [], OCLC 228727523, page 6:
      What's an Eternal Circulation of the ſame Things, as well as the ſame Steps, without Advancing one Inch of Ground towards his Journey's End, but Ixion in the Wheel? And all this while, with Cares, and Horrors at his Heart, like the Vultur that's Day and Night Quarrying upon Prometheus's Liver.

Etymology 3[edit]

Alteration of quarrel (diamond-shaped piece of coloured glass forming part of a stained glass window; square tile).


quarry (plural quarries)

  1. A diamond-shaped tile or pane, often of glass or stone.
    • 1615, Anthony Nixon, The Scovrge of Corruption. Or A Crafty Knave Needs No Broker, London: Printed at London, for Henry Gosson, and William Houlmes, and are to be sold at his shop in Popes-head Pallace, OCLC 82692486, page 20:
      The boyes playing at ſtooleball, by chaunce broke a quarry of the glaſſe, whereupon he complayned to the Towneſhip, and either had, or did his utmoſt to haue the poor boy whipt, []
    • 1767 April, “a pen” [pseudonym], “The Adventures of a Pen”, in William Phorson, editor, The Berwick Museum, or, Monthly Literary Intelligencer. Being a View of the History, Politics, and Literature of the Times. Forming an Universal Repository of Amusement and Instruction, volume III, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberlnd: Printed by W. Phorson, OCLC 190793946, page 155:
      A window towards the eaſt (whoſe fractured quarries proclaimed the ravages of time) admitted a dim, ſhadowy light, over the whole manſion.
Derived terms[edit]


  • quarry” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020.

Further reading[edit]