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The word quantum is most often used as a scientific or technological term, though the origin of this word for everyday use goes back to the 1600s. We will examine the definition of the word quantum, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

In its broadest sense, the word quantum means an amount, a portion, a quantity. The word is used in physics to mean the smallest quantity of a physical property that something may carry. Quantum physics or quantum mechanics is the study of nature at the smallest scale, atomic and subatomic particles. The word quantum is derived from the Latin word quanta, which means a quantity. The word quantum first appeared in the early 1600s to mean an amount or portion. In 1900 Max Planck, a German physicist, used the term quantum in reference to energy and heat. The plural of quantum is quanta. A phrase that is often used in general English is the figurative expression a quantum leap, meaning a dramatic momentum forward, a huge change.


Scientists have shown that a fundamental physical process relating to the arrow of time can be reversed using quantum physics, with experiments showing that the very building blocks of our world can move backward—not just forward. (Newsweek)

Feynman’s contributions to the development of quantum field theory, including his Nobel Prize-winning development of quantum electrodynamics (Q.E.D.) and his intuitive Feynman diagrams, his contributions to teaching, the Manhattan project, gravitational wave physics, the Challenger disaster and much more are not only covered, they’re explained in gloriously in-depth and simultaneously comprehensible fashion. (Forbes Magazine)

Describing this as ‘the next quantum leap in Swiss public transport’, SBB was responding on November 9 to a government consultation document on long-term investment in the national rail network. (Railway Gazette International)