from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To question closely or repeatedly; interrogate.
  • transitive v. To test the knowledge of by posing questions. See Synonyms at ask.
  • transitive v. Chiefly British To poke fun at; mock.
  • n. A questioning or an inquiry.
  • n. A short oral or written test.
  • n. A practical joke.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Something designed to puzzle one or make one ridiculous; banter; raillery.
  • n. One who or that which quizzes.
  • n. One who or that which is obnoxious to ridicule or quizzing; a queer or ridiculous person or thing.
  • n. A competition in the answering of questions.
  • n. A school examination of less importance, or of greater brevity, than others given in the same course.
  • v. To hoax.
  • v. To question closely, to interrogate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A riddle or obscure question; an enigma; a ridiculous hoax.
  • n. One who quizzes others.
  • n. An odd or absurd fellow.
  • n. An exercise, or a course of exercises, conducted as a coaching or as an examination.
  • intransitive v. To conduct a quiz. See quiz, n., 4.
  • transitive v. To puzzle; to banter; to chaff or mock with pretended seriousness of discourse; to make sport of, as by obscure questions.
  • transitive v. To peer at; to eye suspiciously or mockingly.
  • transitive v. To instruct in or by a quiz. See Quiz, n., 4.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To puzzle; banter; make sport of by means of puzzling questions, hints, and the like; chaff.
  • To look at through or as through a quizzing-glass; peer at; scrutinize suspiciously.
  • In medicine, to examine (a student) orally or informally, as in a quiz-or question-class.
  • To practise bantering or chaffing; be addicted to teasing.
  • In medicine, to attend oral or informal examinations, as in a quiz-class.
  • n. A puzzling question; something designed to puzzle one or make one ridiculous; banter; raillery.
  • n. One who quizzes.
  • n. One who or that which is obnoxious to ridicule or quizzing; a queer or ridiculous person or thing.
  • n. An oral questioning of a student or class by a teacher, conducted with the object of communicating instruction and preparing for some examination: as, the surgery quiz; the practice quiz. [Colloq.]
  • n. A collection of notes made by a student from a professor's lectures, especially when printed for the use of other students. [Colloq.]
  • n. A monocular eye-glass, with or without a handle; a quizzing-glass.
  • n. A toy, formerly popular, consisting of a small cylinder or wheel grooved to receive a string, by which the wheel is made to wind and unwind itself. Also called bandalore.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. examine someone's knowledge of something
  • n. an examination consisting of a few short questions


Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
The true etymology is unknown. (Wiktionary)



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  • I had always heard that this word, Quiz, was "invented" by a man during a bet. He bet a friend that he could invent a new word and get it accepted. He proceeded to paint this word , Quiz, all over the town, graffiti style. I believe that this happened in England. Well, that is what I remember hearing a long time ago about the origin of this word. I was surprised that this was not confirmed in your information.

    June 24, 2009

  • Legend has it that this word was coined in a bet. In 1780, Dublin theater owner James Daly boasted that he could make up a word and it would become the talk of the town overnight. Everyone within earshot thought it was so preposterous that they took him up on it. Daly paid an army of children to write the word in chalk on walls, streets, billboards, etc. The following morning, everyone was speculating what the strange word meant, and many suspected it was obscene. It came to be used to mean a practical joke, because that's what Daly had played on Dublin, then to mean making fun of someone with verbal banter, then it took on its present-day meaning. Most lexicographers deny this story is true, though.

    February 13, 2009