Tuesday, 27 March 2012

How did the word 'QUIZ' originate?

You may be passionate about quizzing and may participate in quizzes regularly. But do you know about the origin of the word 'quiz'. If you do not know then read on.....

quiz is a form of game or mind sport in which the players (as individuals or in teams) attempt to answer questions correctly.

 The word first appeared in 1784 and means a very odd or eccentric person. This sense survives today in the word 'quizzical'.

It was also used in the term quizzing glass, a common accoutrement of British Regency dandies. It later acquired a meaning of to make fun of, or to mock. How it acquired its current meaning of a test is unknown, but that sense did not appear until 1867 and then it was in the United States.

The OED2 cites from 1847 where the word appears: "She com back and quiesed us", which could be a clue to its origin. Quiz is possibly a corrupt form of the Latin Qui es, meaning "Who are you?" 

According to American Heritage it may be from the English dialect verb quiset, meaning to question. 

There is a well-known myth about the word 'quiz'. It says that in 1791 a Dublin theater owner named James Daly made a bet that he could introduce a nonsense word into the language within twenty-four hours and the public would define its meaning. He then went out and hired a group of street urchins (according to another version he gave his staff cards with the word quiz written on them) and told them to write the word , which was a nonsense word, on walls around the city of Dublin. The word soon caught the fancy of tne people of Dublin. Within a day, the word was common currency and had acquired a meaning (since no one knew what it meant, everyone thought it was some sort of test) and Daly had some extra cash in his pocket. However, there is no evidence supporting the story, and the term was already in use before the alleged bet in 1791.

Quiz was also used as a name for a curious toy, something like a yo-yo which was popular around 1790.

Hence it is highly debatable how the word quiz originated and so is its meaning of 'to question or interrogate' which it acquired later. Quiz as we know today emerged in the mid-19th century.



shekhar singh said...

nice man keep't up.....it seems to be a new arrival.....

Anonymous said...

Nice n informative.

Anonymous said...

Really a great post.I liked it and i will share it with others too.
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$ubhajit $engupta said...

thank you..please subscribe to blog feed to be updated

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