noun, plural quiz·zes.

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, quiz·zing.

Origin of quiz

1775–85 in sense “odd person”; 1840–50 for def 1; origin uncertain
Related formsquiz·za·ble, adjectivequiz·zer, nounun·quiz·za·ble, adjectiveun·quizzed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for quiz

Contemporary Examples of quiz

Historical Examples of quiz

  • 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 plural 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 quizzes, quizzing or quizzed (tr)

to investigate by close questioning; interrogate
US and Canadian informal to test or examine the knowledge of (a student or class)
(tr) obsolete to look quizzically at, esp through a small monocle
Derived Formsquizzer, noun

Word Origin for quiz

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

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