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 ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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