Pop “Quiz”

Yesterday Mary was looking up the origins of the word “quiz” — specifically wanting to know at what point it became a verb related to testing.1  Her research led to this 18th century quote: “Everybody seems to set me down as a butt made on purpose to be ridiculed … as if I had ‘This man is quizable’ pasted in large letters upon my back.”2

Nice to know that some things never change …

  1. It originally meant “an odd or eccentric person in character or appearance” (OED).
  2. From The Quiz No. 13. (1797).

2 Comments Leave a Comment

  • kbryna says:

    To loop back, I seem to recall reading (in letters, maybe, or diaries) J.M. Barrie using the word “quiz” to describe himself. I think Lewis Carroll used it as well.

    When DID it become a verb related to testing? (perhaps I should do my own research…)

  • Mary Auxier says:

    My guess is that the testing association comes from the secondary meaning in the late 18th/early 19th century, which was “a practical joke” or trick–but the specificity of the school setting seems to be an American development in the late 19th century (OED).

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