[ test ]
/ tɛst /
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verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
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Origin of test

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English: test(e), tast(e) “crucible; cupel,” from Old French “test, teste,” Latin testū, testum “earthenware pot”; akin to test2

synonym study for test

1. See trial.


Other definitions for test (2 of 4)

[ test ]
/ tɛst /

Zoology. the hard, protective shell or covering of certain invertebrates, as echinoderms or tunicates.
Botany. testa.

Origin of test

First recorded in 1840–45; from Latin testa “tile, shell, covering”; akin to test1

Other definitions for test (3 of 4)



Other definitions for test (4 of 4)


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of test?

A test is a series of questions or problems that is used to determine a person’s ability or understanding of something. More generally, test refers to a trial, experiment, or examination that is designed to determine the qualities or characteristics of someone or something. As a verb, test means to assess someone’s knowledge or abilities, to put someone or something through a trial, or to try something out. The word test has several other senses as a noun and a verb.

A test is a collection of questions, tasks, or problems that are designed to see if a person understands a subject or to measure their ability to do something.

Real-life examples: Most schooling involves taking tests in many subjects, such as math and history. Lawyers must do well on a particularly difficult test, known as the bar examination, to be able to practice law.

Used in a sentence: I studied all night for my chemistry test. 

Test can also be used in this context as a verb meaning to administer such a test.

Real-life examples: Teachers test their students’ knowledge by giving them quizzes and tests.

Used in a sentence: Yes, you will be tested on this.

As a noun, test also refers to an experiment or trial that is designed to discover information about something.

Real-life examples: Scientists and researchers create many tests (often called experiments) to learn new information or to see if a hypothesis is correct. A test of a chemical might involve how it reacts with other chemicals. Companies and businesses use safety tests to see if their products are safe for customers. A pregnancy test analyzes body fluids for hormones to determine whether someone is pregnant.

Used in a sentence: The scientists used several different tests to determine how much pollution was in the drinking water. 

Related to this sense, test can mean to put something through a trial or test or to try it.

Real-life examples: People often test products before purchasing them. When buying a car, you can test how it drives by taking it on a test drive. Testing a person often involves making them endure some kind of trial.

Used in a sentence: The boss is just testing you because you’re new—he wants to see if you can handle the pressure.

Where does test come from?

The first records of the word test come from around 1350. It ultimately comes from the Latin word testū, meaning “an earthen pot.”

In Middle English, test was used to refer to a cupel, a container used to analyze ores.

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What are some other forms related to test?

  • testable (adjective)
  • tester (noun)
  • testing (continuous tense verb, noun, adjective)

What are some synonyms for test?

What are some words that share a root or word element with test

What are some words that often get used in discussing test?

How is test used in real life?

Test is commonly used to refer to an academic exam. More generally, it refers to a trial that someone or something undergoes.



Try using test!

Is test used correctly in the following sentence?

The company ran the new soap through many tests to make sure it didn’t cause skin irritation.

How to use test in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for test (1 of 2)

/ (tɛst) /


Derived forms of test

testable, adjectivetestability, nountesting, adjective

Word Origin for test

C14 (in the sense: vessel used in treating metals): from Latin testum earthen vessel

British Dictionary definitions for test (2 of 2)

/ (tɛst) /

the hard or tough outer covering of certain invertebrates and tunicates
a variant of testa

Word Origin for test

C19: from Latin testa shell
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with test


see acid test; put to the test.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.