A riding whip with a short, stiff handle and a lash made of two or more loose thongs.
[Probably from Mexican Spanish cuarta (from Spanish, quarter, span (unit of length), quarter of a yard (the quirt possibly being so called because its handle was a cuarta in length)), from Old Spanish, quarter, from Latin quārta, fourth; see QUART, or perhaps from Spanish cuerda, cord (from Old Spanish, from Latin chorda; see CORD).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.