While quantum refers to a general quantity or size, it is most often used in physics as a measure of the smallest amount of something — usually energy — that something can possess. The plural form is quanta.
In the 17th century, the word quantum, from the Latin word for "how much," referred to a portion. Quantum is usually a noun referring to a specific amount of something. However, it can also be used as an adjective, as in the phrase "quantum leap," where it refers to a sudden, important change. Outside of physics, the word might be used with "not" to refer to something insignificant, as in "There's not a quantum of truth in what you say."