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Words by Decade Quizzes, Trivia and Puzzles
Words by Decade Quizzes, Trivia

Words by Decade Trivia

Words by Decade Trivia Quizzes

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Some words are indelibly linked with a specific time. Here are some examples.
12 quizzes and 130 trivia questions.
  Words by Decade 1961-1970   best quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Words that came into the language during "The Swinging Sixties" should be well known to us. Check them out in this multi-choice quiz.
Average, 10 Qns, Philian, Mar 09 18
Mar 09 18
8597 plays
  Sayings in 1970   top quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
A chemistry professor at my university claimed we were the generation "that says, 'Ya know' and doesn't." Of course, we were just misunderstood. Do you know the meanings and/or derivations of these idioms current in 1970?
Average, 10 Qns, uglybird, Oct 09 23
Oct 09 23
7567 plays
  Words of the 2000-2009 Decade   best quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Every year, societies publish the 'Words of the Year'. These words are amongst the top 25 words of the decade beginning with 2000 and ending in 2009 (as per 'The Language Monitor'). See if you're up to speed on these terms. Good luck!
Easier, 10 Qns, kyleisalive, Apr 14 23
kyleisalive editor
Apr 14 23
2371 plays
  What We Talked About in 2020!   popular trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
This quiz is based on the list of the 50 words/expressions most used by the English-speaking media, presented on July 3, 2020, by the "Global Language Monitor" (GLM), in the mid-year update.
Easier, 10 Qns, masfon, Nov 29 20
masfon gold member
Nov 29 20
865 plays
  Words by Decade 1951- 1960   top quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
This decade marked the beginning of the consumer boom in both the U.S.A. and Great Britain.In the background lurked the dangers of the Cold War. However, the new words kept on arriving in the dictionary.
Average, 10 Qns, Philian, Dec 28 22
Dec 28 22
5283 plays
  Merriam Webster's Words of the Year    
Multiple Choice
 20 Qns
Merriam-Webster began their Word of the Year list in 2003 based on search hits, popularity and, later on, an online poll on the popular words that year. We'll cover at least one of them per year in this quiz, up to 2019. Good luck!
Average, 20 Qns, malik24, Mar 20 20
Mar 20 20
399 plays
  Words by Decade 1941-1950   great trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Some people regard the 1940s as the pivotal decade of the century. World War II and the prospect of nuclear explosions continued to keep the new vocabulary flowing.
Tough, 10 Qns, Philian, May 25 22
May 25 22
2332 plays
  Words by Decade 1931-1940   popular trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
This is a decade that begins with the Depression and ends with the Second World War. Check out the only thing not in short supply and that is new words entering English and American English dictionaries.
Tough, 10 Qns, Philian, Apr 24 19
Apr 24 19
2346 plays
  Words by Decade 1900-1910    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
The century turns and a whole new bunch of words marches in to join the dictionary. Ten multi-choice questions here test what you know about them. Did they all stay the course?
Tough, 10 Qns, Philian, Apr 01 24
Apr 01 24
1315 plays
  Jazz Age Jive   popular trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Defining the BIG WORDS of the Roaring '20s
Average, 10 Qns, DR.NO, Aug 28 15
483 plays
trivia question Quick Question
What was the alternative name given to the French Resistance Movement during the occupation by the Germans in World War II?

From Quiz "Words by Decade 1941-1950"

  Words by Decade 1911-1920    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
In this decade dominated by World War I new words or new meanings for old words continued to pour into the dictionary. Test your knowledge of the newcomers with this multi-choice quiz.
Difficult, 10 Qns, Philian, Jan 29 21
Jan 29 21
1022 plays
  Words by Decade 1921-1930   popular trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
The "Roaring Twenties" continued the surge of new words that entered in the dictionaries in both the U.S.A. and Great Britain. Check them out here.
Very Difficult, 10 Qns, Philian, Jan 11 12
Very Difficult
1577 plays

Words by Decade Trivia Questions

1. The first thing that stands out in the GLM list is the presence of the names of two institutions: CDC and WHO. What area of activity are the institutions to which these initialisms refer dedicated to?

From Quiz
What We Talked About in 2020!

Answer: Health

The two institutions mentioned are linked to the health area. The CDC - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, formed in 1946, is a national public health institute, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. It aims to protect public health and safety through disease, injury and disability control, both in the US and internationally. WHO - World Health Organization, founded in 1948 and headquartered in Geneva, CH, is an agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. Its main objective, defined by its constitution, is: "the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health".

2. It seems only fitting that the top 2003 entry refers to a word referring to a state governed by the people or their elected officials. Which word was it?

From Quiz Merriam Webster's Words of the Year

Answer: Democracy

Democracy ultimately derives from 'demokratia' ('popular government' in Greek) which in turn derives from 'demos' (common people) and 'kratos' (rule). The word was searched more frequently on the website due to the Iraq war and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. The president of Merriam-Webster, John Morse, noted that "the most frequently looked up words are not the newest words, not the latest high-tech terms, not the cool new slang." In alternatives like the Oxford or Collins lists, the words selected tend to be much more likely to be said 'cool new slang'.

3. Invented by comedian and satirist Stephen Colbert, this word ranked #1 in 2006 but appeared at #25 on the decade's list. What word, meaning 'intuition from the gut' as opposed to truth from logic or evidence, is it?

From Quiz Words of the 2000-2009 Decade

Answer: Truthiness

Appearing on "The Colbert Report", a satirical news program, Stephen Colbert led the nation with this word that appeared at the top of the Webster 2006 word list AND the American Dialect Society's list. The word refers to truth attained from a gut instinct as opposed to fact or proven evidence through intellectual observation or logic. According to Colbert in interviews, the term highlights the United States' selfish opinion on truth not only being something that people 'feel' is correct, but that it is something that can only be correct because 'they' are the ones feeling its merit. In a sense, it pokes fun at the public's disregard for empirical fact in various aspects of life. Since the show's debut, Colbert has also coined the term 'Wikiality'.

4. During the Roaring '20s, if an individual were to toss off a little "COFFIN VARNISH" what would they be doing?

From Quiz Jazz Age Jive

Answer: Drinking bootleg liquor

The term "coffin varnish" was typically used to refer to harsh, poisonous alcohol. Modern terms describing rough alcohol include rotgut and white lightning. However, bootleg liquor was nothing to laugh at considering that it wasn't uncommon for it to be poisonous. In fact, of those that drank "Jake" containing neurotoxins many lost the use of use of their feet and hands. Source: Wikipedia. "Jamaica Ginger" The Internet Guide to Jazz Age Slang

5. "I mean really, I think she was a little stoned, ya know." What was a stoned person in 1970?

From Quiz Sayings in 1970

Answer: Intoxicated

A carryover term from earlier times when it referred particularly to inebriation with alcohol. In 1970 psychedelic drugs (in particular marijuana) were generally used to become stoned.

6. A "Frisbee" is the name for a concave plastic disc used for throwing and catching. From which industry did the Frisbee get its name?

From Quiz Words by Decade 1951- 1960

Answer: The bakery industry - it came from aerodynamic pie tins.

The disc was actually invented by Fred Morrison who got the idea and its name from the pie tins of the Frisbie bakery in Bridgeport, Connecticut. In the U.S.A. "Frisbee" is the proprietary or brand name.

7. In World War II a "bazooka" was a tubular anti-tank rocker launcher but what was the original meaning of this word in the 1930s?

From Quiz Words by Decade 1941-1950

Answer: It was the name of a trombone-like jazz instrument.

The trombone-like bazooka was invented by a Mr.Burns. There is some speculation that its name was created in imitation of the word "kazoo", another instrument that produces a buzzing sound.

8. What was "Asdic" whose development was first recorded in 1939?

From Quiz Words by Decade 1931-1940

Answer: an echo-sounding device for the detection of submarines

Asdic is an acronym formed from the rather clumsy Allied Submarine Detection Investigation Committee. In the early part of the war it was supposedly a secret apparatus but in fact both the Germans and the Japanese knew all about it.

9. To "bob" meaning to cut the hair of a girl or a woman into a short style all round came into the language in 1918. From which earlier usage did it derive?

From Quiz Words by Decade 1911-1920

Answer: From the process of cutting short a horse's tail.

In John Ayto's "20th Century Words" there is a recorded instance of "bobbed hair" in 1918. However, the noun "bob" meaning a particular style of haircut did not emerge until the 1920s.

10. The first two words of the midyear 2020 GLM list are COVID and COVID-19. What is the meaning of the number 19 in the name of the disease COVID-19?

From Quiz What We Talked About in 2020!

Answer: The year when the disease emerged

The World Health Organization - WHO, the UN health agency, announced in February 2020 that COVID-19 is the official name of the disease that spread to almost all countries in the world in 2020; "co" is from "corona", "vi" for "virus" and "d" for "disease" and "19" is for the year in which the first case of the disease appeared, 2019. It is interesting to remember that, when naming new diseases, WHO has chosen names that avoid making reference to a group of people, geographic locations or any species of animal, thus avoiding stigmatization.

11. This portmanteau entry came into popular use as use of the internet began to become ever more mainstream. Which word, an online journal used to record activities, thoughts or beliefs, are we looking for here?

From Quiz Merriam Webster's Words of the Year

Answer: Blog

The word blog is a portmanteau of web and log and is somewhat similar to an online diary. As access to the internet improved, people found that blogs were one way of sharing their innermost thoughts with the world. Cosplay is a portmanteau of costume and play, emoticon is emotion and icon, and email is electronic mail.

12. In 2006, this important word appeared on the list. What term, used in speaking of the preservation of natural resources for the sake of prolonging the lifespan of the Earth and humankind, reached #22 on the list of the decade?

From Quiz Words of the 2000-2009 Decade

Answer: Sustainability

The term 'sustainability' refers to peoples' abilities to both maintain healthy, functional lives while taking into account the natural environment. Due to the more Earth-friendly focus placed upon citizens in the 2000s, many sustainable productions and actions have been put into effect from replacing plastic shopping bags to building 'greener' structures to composting or recycling. With growing technology and public awareness, the basic plan is to avoid impact on the planet while allowing the current series of ecosystems to endure the negative factors currently in place.

13. Why would any Jazz Age flapper be merry about wearing a "HANDCUFF"?

From Quiz Jazz Age Jive

Answer: She's finally caught her man

In the colorful patois of the Roaring '20s engagement and marriage were often referred to as being handcuffed (engaged) and manacled (married). In our more enlightened times the spouse is simply referred to as "the old ball and chain". Source: McCutcheon, Marc. "The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life from Prohibition through Word War II" (via Earthlink)

14. "Oh man! I hope she was just out of it. She was talking about offing the pigs." What might one be concerned the woman would do?

From Quiz Sayings in 1970

Answer: kill police officers

"Offing" seemed mainly to be an activity reserved for "when the revolution comes." It never came, fortunately.

15. Which dance craze and style of music literally meant "new tendency" when translated into English?

From Quiz Words by Decade 1961-1970

Answer: bossa nova

The "bossa nova" was a style of Brazilian music and a dance related to the samba. It is a translation from the Portuguese (the language of Brazil). It only had a brief period of popularity during the 1960s.

16. A bikini is a brief two-piece swimsuit for women. Which nation first introduced this word and meaning into the language?

From Quiz Words by Decade 1941-1950

Answer: France

The story is that the term first appeared in "Le Monde Illustre" in 1947 when the journalist compared the effect of a bikini on French males to the explosion caused by the U.S. atom bomb test on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in July 1946.

17. What was a "Blattnerphone"?

From Quiz Words by Decade 1931-1940

Answer: an early type of tape recorder

The Blattnerphone recorded on magnetic steel tape. It was named after its inventor L.Blattner (1881-1935)

18. What is the original meaning of "basket case", just one of the horrible terms that were produced by World War I?

From Quiz Words by Decade 1911-1920

Answer: A soldier who has had all four limbs amputated.

This is believed to have been derived from United States Army slang as an unofficial way of describing someone who has to be carried in a basket because there is nothing else to hold on to.

19. The invention of the first plastic substance that hardened permanently when heated was first recorded in 1909. It was named after its inventor. What was this plastic called?

From Quiz Words by Decade 1900-1910

Answer: Bakelite

Leo Baekeland was Belgian-born but the word "Bakelit" was first coined in German, but was immediately changed into "Bakelite" when the invention reached the English-speaking world. In its early form it was often used in the electrical industry for switchgear parts.

20. Another word from 2020 midyear GLM list is "Wuhan", a Chinese city where the public health authorities reported cases of a new respiratory syndrome. What kind of city is Wuhan?

From Quiz What We Talked About in 2020!

Answer: A large and highly industrialized city with a population of around 11 million inhabitants

Wuhan is the capital and the largest city in the Hubei province, with a population of around 11 million people. It lies on the confluence of the Yangtze and Han rivers and it is a very important political, economical, educational, financial, logistical and cultural city in Central China.

21. Numerous ethical scandals in the United States meant that this word - or the lack thereof - was on peoples' minds. Which word describing an adherence to moral or ethical principles was the 2005 winner?

From Quiz Merriam Webster's Words of the Year

Answer: Integrity

Integrity can also describe the quality of being incorruptible, a trait which many people in 2005 apparently did not share. On the 6th October, an alleged sex party took place between seventeen members of the Minnesota Vikings and at least ninety prostitutes. The ongoing Plame affair (or CIA leak scandal) described the public identification of a CIA agent, an event which brought many people into disrepute. Merriam-Webster didn't cite any one event as contributing to the rise in the word's popularity, so it was likely a combination of events boosting this word's popularity.

22. Popularized by the increase of cell phone usage, this word was an entry from 2004. What word, ranking at #20 on the list of the decade, refers to messages written between cellular devices?

From Quiz Words of the 2000-2009 Decade

Answer: Texting

Texting, text messaging, or SMSing, is a cell phone-related form of communication using the text input on a phone to send a wireless 'e-mail-like' message to anyone with a capable handheld device. As this feature cost less than normal calling and as it could be done much faster, text messaging quickly became a norm in terms of communication. Due to a surge in the amount of text messaging, phones were soon released with full keyboards built in. Handheld devices such as the iPhone have the ability to log entire message histories on their memory. As with e-mail, text messaging has the ability to generate spam.

23. When a 1920s theater arranged for a real "WHANGDOODLE" a patron would most likely be enjoying what form of entertainment?

From Quiz Jazz Age Jive

Answer: Jazz band

During prohibition (1920 - 1933) back alley speakeasies opened that served ice cold illicit alcohol and white hot jazz. During this period jazz was widely denigrated by the mainstream culture as indicative of challenging old school values and for the decadence of those that listened to it. In fact, jazz was even blamed for at least one fatality - that of a conductor! Source: Wikipedia. "Jazz"

24. "If that's your bag." From which original sense of the word "bag" did the meaning of a particular person's interest or expertise actually derive?

From Quiz Words by Decade 1961-1970

Answer: From the notion of a bag being something you put things in.

It originally came from the slightly earlier jazz slang sense. As you place things in your bag you allocate them to particular compartments indicating your different uses and preferences.

25. From the attack on which city does the term "fifth-column" first come into the language?

From Quiz Words by Decade 1931-1940

Answer: Madrid

The expression was first used by General Mola as he was besieging Madrid with four columns of troops. The fifth column was the band of his supporters that were waiting for the word to attack inside the city. It came to refer to any enemy planted in your country.

26. What were the ingredients of "Eskimo pie" first recorded in the vocabulary of the U.S.A. in 1928?

From Quiz Words by Decade 1921-1930

Answer: ice-cream coated with chocolate

This was originally a brand or proprietary name first recorded as just "Eskimo" in 1922. In Britain its equivalent was the "choc-ice" but the first record of that word is in 1951.

27. In 1917 the term "Alsatian" was first used to name a large breed of dog. Why was this name chosen?

From Quiz Words by Decade 1911-1920

Answer: Because of the war the term "German shepherd dog" was not allowed by the British Kennel club.

The dog has no known connection with Alsace. The breed was well known in England and the U.S.A. before the war but sensitivity in Britain towards anything German led to the Kennel Club's action. It also led to the British Royal Family changing its own name to Windsor from the very German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

28. In the 2020 midyear list from GLM we find the term "wet market". What is a "wet market"?

From Quiz What We Talked About in 2020!

Answer: A market that sells perishable goods, including live animals

A "wet market" is a place that sells fresh meat, fish and sometimes live animals. The sale of wild and exotic animals in these markets led to suspicions that they were linked to outbreaks of zoonotic diseases. These markets are common in some countries, especially in Asia. They play a critical role in food supply, as they offer better prices, fresh food, physical accessibility and encourage social interaction. The term "wet market" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) in 2016. The "wet" in "wet market" refers to the constantly wet ground due to the melting of ice used to prevent food from spoiling.

29. This word first appeared in 2002 but ranked at #18. Referring to large weaponry and munitions expected to be found in Iraq, what acronym was made popular at this time?

From Quiz Words of the 2000-2009 Decade

Answer: WMDs

WMDs refers to 'Weapons of Mass Destruction', weapons capable of wiping out populations and causing wide-scale catastrophe, whether in a specific isolated place or worldwide. While the United States Government sent troops to Iraq to locate these weapons, there is no evidence that said weapons were discovered at this time though media outlets all had different opinions on the matter. Iraq possessed materials to construct said weapons (declaring these in 2009), but nothing substantial was found by American troops. President Bush later admitted his regret in regards to the handling of intelligence from the Iraq War.

30. What additional meaning did the word "busing" gain during the 1960s?

From Quiz Words by Decade 1961-1970

Answer: To transport people from one place to another to try to achieve racial integration.

The term was mostly used with regard to taking children to and from schools. The idea was to mix the population from different areas of a city so that the disadvantages and isolation of the ghetto environments could be overcome. Naturally this caused a great deal of controversy.

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Last Updated Jun 22 2024 5:52 AM
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