- 1. Denoting a chemical compound containing four elements; e.g., NaHSO4. Cf.:q. structure. 2. Fourth in a series. 3. Relating to organic compounds in which some central atom is attached to four functional groups; applied to the usually trivalent nitrogen in its “onium” state, R4N+, “q. nitrogen.” 4. Referring to a level of structure of macromolecules in which more than one biopolymer is present. Cf.:q. structure. [L. quaternarius, fr. quaterni, four each, fr. quattuor, four, + -arius, adj. suffix]
* * *qua·ter·na·ry 'kwät-ə(r)-.ner-ē, kwə-'tər-nə-rē adj consisting of, containing, or being an atom bonded to four other atoms
* * *qua·ter·nary (kwahґtər-nar″e) (kwah-turґnər-e) [L. quaternarius, from quattuor four] 1. fourth in order. 2. containing four elements or groups.
Medical dictionary. 2011.