QuarksQuarks and Leptons are the building blocks which build up matter, i.e., they are seen as the "elementary particles". In the present standard model, there are six "flavors" of quarks. They can successfully account for all known mesons and baryons (over 200). The most familiar baryons are the proton and neutron, which are each constructed from up and down quarks. Quarks are observed to occur only in combinations of two quarks (mesons), three quarks (baryons). There was a recent claim of observation of particles with five quarks (pentaquark), but further experimentation has not borne it out.
Each of the six "flavors" of quarks can have three different "colors". The quark forces are attractive only in "colorless" combinations of three quarks (baryons), quark-antiquark pairs (mesons) and possibly larger combinations such as the pentaquark that could also meet the colorless condition. Quarks undergo transformations by the exchange of W bosons, and those transformations determine the rate and nature of the decay of hadrons by the weak interaction.
The name "quark" was taken by Murray Gell-Mann from the book "Finnegan's Wake" by James Joyce. The line "Three quarks for Muster Mark..." appears in the fanciful book. Gell-Mann received the 1969 Nobel Prize for his work in classifying elementary particles.