Origin of the Word Quiz
Everybody is aware about the meaning of Quiz, but there is a funny story behind the origin of the word. It is said that, once Richard Daly, proprietor of a Dublin theatre, announced that, within a very short time he could introduce a brand new word in the English language and the people Dublin would be responsible to give a meaning to it. After the end of the evening show of the theatre, he
scribbled the meaningless word ’quiz’ on some pieces of paper and told his staffs to write the word on walls around the city. The next day the strange word, hitherto been unknown to everybody, was the talk of the town, and within a short time, it had become part of the language to mean some sort of “test”, because this is what the people thought the mysterious word was supposed to be.
The striking story, as mentioned above, appeared as an anecdote in 1836. But, the more detailed account of it, as recorded in 1875 by F.T.Porter, in his book Gleanings and Reminiscences, mentioned the date of the exploit as 1791. However, the word had been already in use by that time, meaning an
odd or eccentric person and had been used in that sense by Fanny Burney in her diary on 24 June 1782. Moreover, the so called ‘strange word’ quiz was also used as a name for a curious toy, something like a yo-yo, also called a ‘bandalore’ which was popular around 1790.
It seems that, it is difficult to find out, whether there is any truth behind the story and it is still difficult to find any other compelling explanation for the origin of this word. So perhaps it is better to think that there is an element of truth in the excellent story after all.