A new study indicates that the vocabulary of the average American adult has declined in recent decades. To counteract this trend, On A Lighter Note is introducing a "Word of the Day" feature to help its readers apply a more expressive and impactful vocabulary to everyday situations. First up - quincunx. A quincunx (pronounced kwin-kunks) is a group of five objects arranged in a 2-1-2 pattern like the five dots on dice. The word originates from a coin of the same name used in ancient Rome that featured five dots in the aforementioned arrangement.
Now, it is a universal fact that once you learn a new word, you start to see it pop up all the time in your daily life. For example, while perusing the flags of the world, you see that the Solomon Islands of the South Pacific has a quincunx of stars in the top-left corner of their national emblem. Walking through an exhibition on ornamental orcharding, you are confronted by a quincunx of quince trees. Or watching the basketball movie Hoosiers, you observe that Hickory High employed a stifling quincuncial zone defense to win the district finals. Finally, you notice that the big family that lives across the street has a quincunx of children: a set of twins followed by a single child followed by another set of twins.
So all this time, there have been quincunxes lurking in the shadows all around us ... It is actually sort of creepy when you think about it.
The national flag of the Solomon Islands.