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[kwiz] /kwɪz/
noun, plural quizzes.
an informal test or examination of a student or class.
a questioning.
a practical joke; a hoax.
Chiefly British. an eccentric, often odd-looking person.
verb (used with object), quizzed, quizzing.
to examine or test (a student or class) informally by questions.
to question closely:
The police quizzed several suspects.
Chiefly British. to make fun of; ridicule; mock; chaff.
Origin of quiz
1775-85 in sense “odd person”; 1840-50 for def 1; origin uncertain
Related forms
quizzable, adjective
quizzer, noun
unquizzable, adjective
unquizzed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for quiz
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • By-the-bye, Clary, did you ever quiz that doctor, as I desired you?

  • Next day, Sunday, his friends from Sulby came to quiz and to question.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • Laboratory work by students, together with lectures and quiz sections.

    College Teaching Paul Klapper
  • The exclusive lecture system is intolerable, and the same is true of the quiz.

    College Teaching Paul Klapper
  • I've got a sure-enough headache—I didn't come over to quiz you.

    Red Pepper Burns Grace S. Richmond
British Dictionary definitions for quiz


noun (pl) quizzes
  1. an entertainment in which the general or specific knowledge of the players is tested by a series of questions, esp as a radio or television programme
  2. (as modifier): a quiz programme
any set of quick questions designed to test knowledge
an investigation by close questioning; interrogation
(obsolete) a practical joke; hoax
(obsolete) a puzzling or eccentric individual
(obsolete) a person who habitually looks quizzically at others, esp through a small monocle
verb (transitive) quizzes, quizzing, quizzed
to investigate by close questioning; interrogate
(US & Canadian, informal) to test or examine the knowledge of (a student or class)
(transitive) (obsolete) to look quizzically at, esp through a small monocle
Derived Forms
quizzer, noun
Word Origin
C18: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for quiz

1867, "brief examination of a student on some subject," perhaps from quiz (v.), or from apparently unrelated slang word quiz "odd person" (1782, source of quizzical). According to OED, the anecdote that credits this word to a bet by the Dublin theater-manager Daly or Daley that he could coin a word is regarded by authorities as "doubtful" and the first record of it appears to be in 1836 (in Smart's "Walker Remodelled"; the story is omitted in the edition of 1840).

The word Quiz is a sort of a kind of a word
That people apply to some being absurd;
One who seems, as t'were oddly your fancy to strike
In a sort of a fashion you somehow don't like
A mixture of odd, and of queer, and all that
Which one hates, just, you know, as some folks hate a cat;
A comical, whimsical, strange, droll -- that is,
You know what I mean; 'tis -- in short, -- 'tis a quiz!

[from "Etymology of Quiz," Charles Dibdin, 1842]


1847, "to question," quies, perhaps from Latin qui es? "who are you?," first question in oral exams in Latin in old-time grammar schools. Spelling quiz first recorded 1886, though it was in use as a noun spelling from 1867, perhaps in this case from apparently unrelated slang word quiz "odd person" (1782, source of quizzical). Cf. quisby "queer, not quite right; bankrupt" (slang from 1807). From the era of radio quiz shows comes quizzee (n.), 1940.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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