Word quizzes

Five quizzes about the origins and meanings of words.
Have fun working out the answers!
Invent your own creative definitions!
Click your choice below.

Tricky Word Origins       Odd Word Out

More Odd Word Out       What Does It Mean?

More What Does It Mean?


Tricky Word Origins

1. Bic is the name of a type of ballpoint pen. Where does the name come from?
(a) originally BIC, the initials of the British Inscription Corporation,
(b) a Spanish word for a bird’s beak, because the pen-point looks like one,
(c) the name of the person who invented this particular type of ballpoint pen.

2. Hoover is the name of a well-known brand of vacuum cleaner. The name comes from which of these?
(a) The person who first put it on the market,
(b) The person who invented it,
(c) The funny hooooovering noise it makes when you use it.

3. We use shampoo to wash our hair regularly. This word comes from
(a) a word in the Hindi language of India,
(b) the name of an American company founded in 1912,
(c) a character in an popular Japanese cartoon strip.

4. Gumboots are called wellingtons in other parts of the world. Why are they
called wellingtons?
(a) they were first made in a city in New Zealand,
(b) it is a garbled English version of the name of the German inventor, Uwe
Vellernstein, who first made them,
(c) the Duke of Wellington made them popular in the 19th century.

5. In Australia, a guernsey is a sleeveless woollen pullover worn by football players. It is called this because
(a) Alex Guernsey was the first player to wear one, in Melbourne in 1889,
(b) it is a play on words, from the phrase, “Go an’ see”,
(c) it is named after a sheep which is named after a British island where this type of sheep came from.

6. Some popular soft drinks have the word “cola” as part of their name. This word comes from
(a) the name of a nut which is native to West Africa,
(b) a word used in Jamaica to mean “cool” or “cold” when people are feeling too hot on a sunny day,
(c) the fact that early European settlers in Australia thought koalas ate gumnuts to make them feel happy.

7. In pop music and pop groups, “pop” comes from
(a) the name of one of the very first pop groups, The Moms and the Pops, whose records are now difficult to obtain,
(b) the sound made when a guitar string snaps while it is being played, something that often happened in earlier recording sessions,
(c) a short version of the word “popular”.

8. The sandwich each get its name from which origin?
(a) a type of edible fungus discovered on the Sandwich Islands late in the 17th century,
(b) the person who helped to make it a popular food item in the 18th century,
(c) a Dutch word for “slice of bread” first introduced into English in the 19th century.

9. The words “tomato”, “tobacco” and “potato” all originated in the same part of the world. Which part is that?
(a) a group of countries in the Mediterranean area,
(b) a large group of islands in the Pacific Ocean,
(c) countries in north, central and south America.

10. A diary can also be called a journal. Where does the word “journal” come from?
(a) Le Marquis Jean-Luc de Journal, 1532–75, a French nobleman who was a prolific diary writer,
(b) a French word meaning “daily”,
(c) it goes back as far as ancient Egypt, when a type of papyrus called gu-hnal was used for manuscripts.

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Odd Word Out

There is an “odd word out” in each group. Which one is it? Caution! They are “odd” for different reasons!
1. ski, shalom, slalom.
2. gas, ice, water.
3. retriever, tabby, terrier.
4. bacon, lamb, mutton.
5. ear-ring, necklace, gold.
6. peal, peel, rind.
7. gastric, stomach, fracture.
8. barometer, kilometre, thermometer.
9. hatchback, oregano, station-wagon.
10. hang. suspend, sustain.

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More Odd Word Out

One word in each group is an “odd word out”. Which one is it, and why?
1. green, verdant, verdict.
2. conclusion, concussion, decision.
3. jowls, measles, mumps.
4. ponder, perplex, puzzle.
5. ardour, aroma, perfume.
6. humble, humidify, humiliate.
7. scramble, scrawl, scribble.
8. consequent, discontent, subsequent.
9. ambiguous, amiable, amicable.
10. crawl, creep, scurry.
 

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What Does It Mean?

Pick the correct meaning of each word.
1. captivate (a) hold somebody’s attention, (b) put a lid or a top onto an open
vessel, (c) put someone in prison.
2. dilate (a) become wider or large, (b) die after a very long illness, (c) hesitate before doing something.
3. emigrate (a) leave your home and go to another country, (b) visit your distant relations, (c) prepare Swiss cheese for use in salad.
4. fascinate (a) make something move faster, (b) attract delight and curiosity,
(c) read with great care in order to understand.
5. irrigate (a) make somebody annoyed, (b) take medicine at least three times a
day, (c) supply land with water by means of channels.
6. laminate (a) cry at a funeral or when somebody goes away, (b) stick a thin
sheet of material to another sort of material, (c) run a farm where there are a
lot of sheep.
7. marinate (a) to travel to Mars, (b) to soak meat or fish before cooking it,
(c) to take a long sea journey.
8. mutate (a) change or alter, especially a plant or animal, (b) get kidnapped by extra-terrestrial beings, (c) use public transport to travel to a city.
9. scintillate (a) do something naughty or evil, (b) cut something into very small pieces, (c) sparkle or twinkle.
10. stagnate (a) go on a hunt for deer in the forest, (b) stop moving and become inactive (c) thrust a sword or a spear into somebody.

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More What Does It Mean?

1. budget (a) the short name for a female budgerigar, (b) to move something
that is difficult to move, (c) a plan showing income and expenses.
2. cryptic (a) mysterious or difficult to understand, (b) in a crypt or cellar,
(c) moving very slowly and carefully.
3. drench (a) a sort of tool used by car mechanics, (b) to soak or make very wet, (c) a sudden pain in a joint such as your ankle or elbow.
4. fanatic (a) a fan to cool an attic, (b) the funny noise made by an old electric fan, (c) someone who is very enthusiastic.
5. homesick (a) being sick in your own home, (b) unhappy and wanting to be back
at your own home, (c) annoyed because you are being kept at home.
6. handicap (a) a useful sort of hat, (b) a disability or disadvantage, (c) a type of glove worn by medieval knights.
7. labyrinth. (a) a complicated sort of scientific instrument, (b) a mythical beast, half dog and half centipede, (c) a twisting set of passages.
8. louse. (a) the nest of a small insect which lives in houses, (b) the correct name of a mouse's nest, (c) a small insect which sucks blood.
9. mascara. (a) a type of dance which is popular in Spain, (b) a musical
instrument used when people are dancing in Spain, (c) a substance used to colour
the eyelashes.
10. omnibus. (a) a bus, (b) a large book containing writings by one author, or
many works about the same subject, (c) a Latin word meaning “for all”.

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Answers?

...only when you have really tried and discussed them with someone. Then you may scroll down to see what the answers are. Please don't cheat!
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers to five word quizzes

Here are the raw answers. Many of them could become the basis of further research and discussion. For example, Bic, wellington and sandwich are eponyms; students could find out more about the people whose names were borrowed.

Tricky Word Origins

1.   (c) the name of the person who invented this particular type of pen.

2.   (a) The person who first put it on the market,

3.   (a) a word in the Hindi language of India,

4.   (c) the Duke of Wellington made them popular in the 19th century.

5.   (c) they are named after a sheep which produces wool and which is named after a British island?

6.   (a) the name of a nut which is native to West Africa,

7.   (c) a short version of the word "popular"

8.   (b) the person who helped to make it a popular food item in the 18th century,

9.   (c) countries in north, central and south America.

10. (b) it comes from a French word meaning "daily",

Odd Word Out

1.   shalom is a Hebrew greeting, the others are skiing words

2.   gas, should be steam to make it a “water” word

3.   tabby relates to cats, the others to dogs

4.   bacon is meat from a pig, the others are from sheep

5.   gold is a precious metal, the others are items of jewellery

6.   peal is a noise made by a bell, the others are skins/coverings of fruit, etc.

7.   fracture relates to bones, the others to digestion/digestive organs

8.   kilometre is a unit of measurement, the others are measuring instruments

9.   oregano is a herb/plant, the others are types of motor vehicle/cars

10. sustain means to support, the others mean to hang.

More Odd Words Out

1.   verdict is a decision, the others mean green

2.   concussion is an injury to the head, the others mean an ending or final point

3.   jowls means jaws and cheeks, the other two are infectious diseases

4.   ponder means to think about, the others mean to confuse

5.   ardour means eagerness, the other two mean scent

6.   humidify means to make damp, the others relate to lowering of pride

7.   scramble means to move quickly or to mix up, the others relate to writing.

8.   discontent means not satisfied, the others mean following or after something else

9.   ambiguous means having more than one possible meaning, the others mean friendly

10. scurry means to move quickly, the others mean to move slowly

What Does it Mean?

1.   (a) hold somebody's attention.

2.   (a) become wider or larger.

3.   (a) leave your home and go to another country.

4.   (b) attract delight and curiosity.

5.   (c) supply land with water by means of channels

6.   (b) stick a thin sheet of material to another sort of material.

7.   (b) to soak meat or fish before cooking it.

8.   (a) change or alter, especially a plant of animal.

9.   (c) sparkle or twinkle.

10. (b) stop moving and become inactive

More What Does It Mean?

1.   (c) a plan showing income and expenses.

2.   (a) mysterious or difficult to understand.

3.   (b) to soak or make very wet.

4.   (c) someone who is very enthusiastic.

5.   (b) unhappy and wanting to be back at your own home.

6.   (b) a disability or disadvantage.

7.   (c) a twisting set of passages.

8.   (c) a small insect which sucks blood.

9.   (c) a substance used to colour the eyelashes.

10. Omnibus: all three answers are correct.

 

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