AskDefine | Define quiz

Dictionary Definition

quiz n : an examination consisting of a few short questions v : examine someone's knowledge of something; "The teacher tests us every week"; "We got quizzed on French irregular verbs" [syn: test] [also: quizzing, quizzes, quizzed, quizzes (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Quiz



  • /kwIz/
  • /kwɪz/
  • Rhymes: -ɪz


The true etymology is unknown. The following have all been proposed:
  • Reputed without evidence to have been invented by a late 18th century Dublin theatre proprietor who bet he could add a new nonsense word to the English language. He thus had the word painted on walls all over the city. The morning after, everyone was talking about the new word.
  • The original meaning is interrogation (1867), being derived from the verb. Current meaning only since 1941.
  • The meaning "hoax" is the original (1796), shifting to the meaning "interrogate" (1847) under the influence of to question and inquisitive.
  • Originally quies (1847), may have derived from Latin qui es? (who are you?), traditionally the first question in oral Latin exams. Used as a noun from 1867, spelling quiz first recorded in 1886.


  1. A competition in the answering of questions.


a competition in the answering of questions
  • Croatian: kviz
  • Czech: kvíz
  • Dutch: quiz
  • Finnish: tietovisa, tietokilpailu
  • French: quiz
  • German: Quiz, Ratespiel
  • Italian: quiz
  • Norwegian: quiz
  • Spanish: prueba, Spanish
  • Vietnamese: thi
  • Finnish: tietokilpailu


  1. (archaic) To hoax.
  2. To question closely, to interrogate.



Extensive Definition

A quiz is a form of game or mind sport in which the players (as individuals or in teams) attempt to answer questions correctly. Quizzes are also brief assessments used in education and similar fields to measure growth in knowledge, abilities, and/or skills.


The first appearance of the word is from 1784 and means an odd person. This sense survives today in the word "quizzical". It was also used in the term quizzing glass, a common accoutrement of British Regency dandies. It later acquired a meaning of to make fun of, or to mock. How it acquired its current meaning of a test is unknown, but that sense did not appear until 1867 and then it was in the United States.
The OED2 has a cite from 1847 where the word appears: "She com back and quiesed us", which could be a clue to its origin. Quiz as a test could be a corruption of the Latin Qui es, meaning "Who are you?" American Heritage says it may be from the English dialect verb quiset, meaning to question. In any case it is probably from the same root as question and inquisitive.
There is a well-known but untrue story of the word "quiz", which says that in 1791 a Dublin theater owner named James Daly made a bet that he could introduce a word into the language within twenty-four hours. He then went out and hired a group of street urchins to write the word "quiz", which was a nonsense word, on walls around the city of Dublin. Within a day, the word was common currency and had acquired a meaning (since no one knew what it meant, everyone thought it was some sort of test) and Daly had some extra cash in his pocket.
While entertaining, there is absolutely no evidence to support it and the term was already in use before the alleged bet in 1791.

As competitions

Quizzes may be held on a variety of subjects (general knowledge, 'pot luck') or subject-specific. The format of the quiz can also vary widely. Popularly known competition quizzes include See also:

In education

A quiz is usually a form of student assessment, but often has fewer questions of lesser difficulty and requires less time for completion than a test. This use is typically found in the USA and Canada.

Other quizzes

Additionally, a personality quiz may be a series of multiple-choice questions about the respondent without right or wrong answers. The responses to these questions are tallied according to a key, and the result purports to reveal some quality of the respondent. This kind of "quiz" was originally popularized by women's magazines such as Cosmopolitan. They have since become common on the internet, where the result page typically includes code which can be added to a blog entry to publicize the result. These postings are common on LiveJournal.
There are also many online quizzes, many webmasters have quiz sections on their websites and forums, phpBB2 has one MOD (modification) which allows users to submit quizzes, this is the Ultimate Quiz MOD.
Most of the online quizzes are to be taken lightly. The results do not often reflect the true personality or relationship. They are also rarely psychometrically valid. However, they may occasion reflection on the subject of the quiz and provide a springboard for a person to explore his or her emotions, beliefs, or actions.

See also

External links

  • – An active listing of quiz links.
quiz in Danish: Quiz
quiz in German: Quiz
quiz in French: Quiz
quiz in Indonesian: Kuis
quiz in Italian: Quiz
quiz in Hungarian: Kvíz
quiz in Macedonian: Квиз
quiz in Dutch: Quiz
quiz in Japanese: クイズ
quiz in Norwegian: Quiz
quiz in Polish: Quiz
quiz in Portuguese: Quiz
quiz in Russian: Викторина
quiz in Simple English: Quiz
quiz in Serbian: Kviz
quiz in Finnish: Tietokilpailu

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Socratic method, ask, asking, audition, be curious, blue book, bringing into question, burn with curiosity, case, catechetical method, catechization, catechize, catechizing, challenge, character, deride, dig around for, dig up, dispute, duck, exam, examen, examination, examine, final, final examination, gape, gawk, great go, grill, hearing, honors, inquire, inquiring, interpellation, interrogate, interrogation, interview, lout, midsemester, midterm, mock, nose around for, nose out, oddball, oddity, oral, oral examination, original, peer, prelim, probing, pump, pumping, query, querying, question, questioning, quizzing, rally, razz, rubber, rubberneck, scout, seek, seeking, spook, stare, take-home examination, taunt, test, trial, tripos, twit, viva, want to know, worm out of, written, written examination, zombie
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