tr.v. quizzed, quiz·zing, quiz·zes
1. To question (someone), especially closely or repeatedly: "His searching questions as he quizzed me on my work made me tongue-tied at first" (Susan Sellers).
2. To test the knowledge of by posing questions: quizzed the class on state capitals. See Synonyms at ask.
3. Archaic To poke fun at; mock.
n. pl. quiz·zes
1. A questioning or inquiry.
2. A short oral or written test.
3. Archaic A practical joke.
Word History: While the origins of quiz remain obscure, we can at least trace the development of its senses. The term, first recorded in the late 1700s, originally meant "an odd or eccentric person." From the noun in this sense came a verb meaning "to make sport or fun of" and "to regard mockingly." In English dialects and probably in American English the verb quiz acquired senses relating to interrogation and questioning. This presumably occurred because quiz was associated with question, inquisitive, or perhaps the English dialect verb quiset, "to question" (probably itself short for obsolete inquisite, "to investigate"). From this new area of meaning came the noun and verb senses all too familiar to students.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus