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 ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.