Intermediate+ Word of the Day: quiz

quiz (noun, verb) /kwiz/ LISTEN

A quiz is an informal and short test for students or a series of questions. It’s also an archaic word for a practical joke or someone odd or eccentric. As a verb, to quiz means to examine students by asking them questions and also to question really closely and in detail. Another archaic meaning of quiz is ‘to make fun or mock someone or something.’

Example sentences

  • We have a quiz in history today.
  • Our club is competing in a general knowledge quiz against a club from the next town.
  • The young men were determined to play a quiz upon their teacher.
  • The old man was something of a quiz, with his colourful clothes and big glasses.
  • The teacher quizzed her students on their Spanish vocabulary.
  • The journalists are quizzing the politician on the government's new austerity measures.
  • Sir, I believe you are quizzing me; it is quite naughty of you.

Words often used with quiz

pop quiz (US): a surprise quiz. Example: “It was a terrible day! My math teacher gave a pop quiz and I couldn’t answer any of the questions!”

In pop culture

Jeopardy is the classic quiz show, or game show, in the United States. In it, contestants are given answers and must provide the question. For example, “This bilingual dictionary website was founded in 1999 and features language forums, an English Word of the Day, and extensive translations of compound forms.” Then contestants would buzz in and say, “What is”

In this video, you can see host Ken Jennings, who is also the most successful Jeopardy player ever and Amy Schneider, the 2022 Tournament of Champions winner, who,after a 40-game winning streak, has become a spokesperson for trans rights.

Additional information

In reference to testing students, quiz, both as a noun and a verb, is more commonly used in US than UK English.

Did you know?

In the UK, a lot of pubs (bars) run quiz nights, where people form teams and try to answer as many general knowledge questions as possible. These are called pub quizzes. The team that gets the most questions right wins. Normally the prize is the entrance fee everyone has paid to take part in the quiz. We also have these in the US, but they are much less common there than in the UK.

Other forms

quizzer (noun), quizzical (adj)


The word quiz is relatively new to English. It first appeared in the late 18th century, meaning ‘odd person.’ Quiz, meaning ‘to question’ was first used in the mid-19th century, with the verb appearing only a few years before the noun. Nobody is sure where it came from, though it is likely it started as slang in British grammar schools. Some linguists think this use came from the Latin phrase qui es? (who are you?), which was often the first question asked during a short oral test in Latin class. The spelling we recognize today was first used in the late 19th century.

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