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Hung, drawn and quartered

Posted by Lewis on March 21, 2003

In Reply to: School term posted by R. Berg on March 17, 2003

: : : : : : In May of the fourth quarter, I decided to plan something special for the children: a Mother's Day tea.

: : : : : : what is fourth quarter.

: : : : : I think it means this: In business and some other areas, a year is often divided up into quarters consisting of three months each. a company's earnings might be reported quarterly, for instance. Your sentence is unusual though because May is usually considered to be in the second quarter. More context might help to explain why.

: : : :
: : : : You're thinking business. It could refer to the fourth quarter of the moon - that time of the month when the half-moon wanes to become a "new" moon. Since the moon takes roughly one month to come full circle (so to speak), every month of the year could have a fourth quarter. Of course, one can't be absolutely certain this is the intended reference unless one knows the precise context.

: : : Since it refers to children, I would think quarter means "a school term of about 12 weeks" (Merriam-Webster online).

: : I didn't know there were four school terms in the US? Nonetheless, if a school year is set to start in August, then the month of May would fall in the 4th quarter of the academic year, so this suggestion looks spot on.

: : I'm groping in the dark here, since in the UK we more usually have three terms in a year (or trimesters, if you like).

: US colleges divide the year using the semester system or the quarter system. In the quarter system, the regular academic year, consisting of the fall, winter, and spring quarters, starts in September (usually) and ends in June or late May. The fourth quarter, which is more lightly attended, is the summer quarter. Colleges on the semester system have a fall and a spring quarter. They may also have a summer session.

Doesn't make sense to me - it is "May of" the 4th quarter and there is only one month May per year, so one could not become confused between May of the 1st quarter and May of the 4th quarter. Perhaps, to use an Engligh expression, somebody is writing "complete bollocks". it has been known...