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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Quarantine \Quar"an*tine\, n. [F. quarantaine, OF. quaranteine, fr. F. quarante forty, L. quadraginta, akin to quattuor four, and E. four: cf. It. quarantina, quarentine. See Four, and cf. Quadragesima.] 1. A space of forty days; -- used of Lent. [1913 Webster] 2. Specifically, the term, originally of forty days, during which a ship arriving in port, and suspected of being infected a malignant contagious disease, is obliged to forbear all intercourse with the shore; hence, such restraint or inhibition of intercourse; also, the place where infected or prohibited vessels are stationed. [1913 Webster] Note: Quarantine is now applied also to any forced stoppage of travel or communication on account of malignant contagious disease, on land as well as by sea. [1913 Webster] 3. (Eng. Law) The period of forty days during which the widow had the privilege of remaining in the mansion house of which her husband died seized. [1913 Webster] Quarantine flag, a yellow flag hoisted at the fore of a vessel or hung from a building, to give warning of an infectious disease; -- called also the yellow jack, and yellow flag. [1913 Webster]