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A quiz is a form of game or mind sport in which the players (as individuals or in teams) attempt to answer questions correctly. In some countries, a quiz is also a brief assessment used in education and similar fields to measure growth in knowledge, abilities, and/or skills.
Quizzes are usually scored in points and many quizzes are designed to determine a winner from a group of participants – usually the participant with the highest score.
The first attested use of the word is from 1781 and means an odd 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 Oxford English Dictionary attests the use of the verb quiz to mean "to question or interrogate", with a reference from 1843: "She com back an' quiesed us", which could be a clue to its origin. Quiz as a test could be a corruption of the Latin qui es, meaning "Who are you?" The American Heritage Dictionary says it may be from the English dialect verb quiset, meaning "to question". In any case it is probably from the same root as question and inquisitive.
There is a well-known myth about the word quiz that says that in 1791 a Dublin theater owner named James Daly made a bet that he could introduce a word into the language within twenty-four hours. He then went out and hired a group of street urchins to write the word "quiz", which was a nonsense word, on walls around the city 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 to support the story, and the term was already in use before the alleged bet in 1791.
Quizzes may be held on a variety of subjects (general knowledge, 'pot luck') or subject-specific. The format of the quiz can also vary widely. Popularly known competition quizzes include
- Pub quizzes
- Quiz bowl
- in Australia:
- in Belgium:
- in Canada:
- in India:
- see Quizzing in India, for a discussion on the specific evolution of the quizzing culture in India
- in Lithuania:
- in the United Kingdom:
- in the United States:
- Individual quiz tournaments
- Board games:
- TV quizzes, also called quiz shows (game shows TV/radio)
- Online quiz
The largest quiz, according to Guinness, was the "Quiz for Life", held at the Flanders Expo Halls in Ghent, Belgium, on 11 December 2010 with 2,280 participants. The winning team Café De Kastaar from Leuven consisted of Marnix Baes, Erik Derycke, Eric Hemelaers, Bart Permentier and Tom Trogh.
In an educational context, a quiz is usually a form of a student assessment, but often has fewer questions of lesser difficulty and requires less time for completion than a test. This use is typically found in the United States, Canada, the Philippines, and some colleges in India. For instance, in a mathematics classroom, a quiz may check comprehension of a type of mathematical exercise. Some instructors schedule a daily or weekly quiz ranging from five to thirty relatively easy questions for the purpose of having the students review their previous lessons before attending the next class. A "pop quiz" is a quiz that students are given no time to prepare for; they are simply surprised with it in class.
Additionally, a personality quiz may be a series of multiple-choice questions about the respondent without right or wrong answers. The responses to these questions are tallied according to a key, and the result purports to reveal some quality of the respondent. This kind of "quiz" was originally popularized by women's magazines such as Cosmopolitan. They have since become common on the Internet, where the result page typically includes code which can be added to a blog entry to publicize the result. These postings are common on LiveJournal.
There are also many online quizzes. Many webmasters have quiz sections on their websites and forums; for instance, phpBB2 has one MOD (modification) which allows users to submit quizzes, called the Ultimate Quiz MOD.
The results of online quizzes are generally to be taken lightly, as they do not often reflect the true personality or relationship. They are also rarely psychometrically valid. However, they may occasion reflection on the subject of the quiz and provide a springboard for a person to explore his or her emotions, beliefs, or actions.
- Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition
- "World Wide Words: Quiz". World Wide Words.
- "Quiz: How much do you know about China and Turkey?". cnn.com.
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