Monday, December 04, 2006

My Own Quiznet Quizzes: Etymology Quiz

Originally posted on Quiznet in June 2002

1. To understand this word, one has to go back to the days when movies were shown continuously in theaters and the audience was allowed to sit through multiple showings of the same movie – the start times were published, and if you came in late you simply sat through the next showing until you came to the point "where you came in". The coming attractions reel would be spliced onto the end of the last reel of the movie. What word is derived from the above-mentioned practice?
Answer: The word is 'Trailer'. For a person who arrived on time or a little early, the coming attractions would seem to appear before the feature, even though technically it was at the end.

2. As founder of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, Anthony _______ earned the dubious distinction of overseeing the destruction of 160 tons of literature and photos he deemed immoral. What word owes its origins to him?
Answer: The word is 'Comstockery', which means 'self-righteous or moralizing censorship' a la Navalkar. The person's surname was Comstock and he held special contempt for a G B Shaw play. Shaw returned the favor by writing a letter to the New York Times, which read in part: "Comstockery is the world's standing Joke at the expense of the United States. It confirms the deep-seated conviction of the Old World that America is a provincial place, a second rate country-town civilization after all."

3. Complete this Ariel’s song from 'The Tempest':
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made:
Those pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a ___-______
Into something rich and strange.
Answer: Sea Change

4. Richard Sheridan created this female character in his play 'The Rivals', which gave its name to a word in the English language. What was her name or the word?
Answer: Mrs. Malaprop, which was the origin of the term 'Malapropism'.

5. Guido d'Arezzo, an 11th century musician, devised a system of musical notation that was a precursor to our modern system of notes and staffs. His system had a six-note scale, represented on a higher and lower staff. This word is a contraction of the words for the lower staff and the lowest note. At some point, French musicians began referring to the whole scale (by then an octave) by this word. The term was then extended to refer to the musical range of an instrument or voice. By the 17th century, it was further generalized to mean an entire range of any kind.
Answer: The lower staff was known as 'Gamma' and the lowest note was 'Ut'. Thus, the word 'Gamut'.

6. In 1925, a person named Robert Link coined this term for the braided leather lanyards that every young Boy Scout was expected to make. It wasn’t the most useful skill for those youngsters to learn, but at least it kept them busy. During the 1930s, critics of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal scornfully applied this term to costly government projects, which, they argued, were a waste of time and money.
Answer: The word was 'Boondoggle', which means 'wasteful expenditure'.

7. Retired physician and self-appointed literary critic, he took it upon himself to tidy up the works of Shakespeare by removing those lines, "which cannot with propriety be read in a family." In his 1818 volume, 'The Family Shakespeare', he severely cut some speeches, omitted certain bawdy characters entirely and in the case of expletives, included the word 'God'. Name this person and the word.
Answer: The person was Thomas Bowlder and the word is 'Bowdlerize'. It means to remove or modify parts to which one has objections.

8. This ancient Greek Goddess, who was the daughter of Aeolus, God of the Wind, married a mortal. But when her husband was killed at sea, she too threw herself into the depths and drowned. Along with her husband, she was magically transformed into the birds. The gods took pity on the pair, declaring that during the week before and after the winter solstice, the seas would remain perfectly calm, so that the devoted pair to nest upon the waters and hatch their eggs. This is the origin of which word?
Answer: 'Halcyon' meaning 'calm and tranquil'. The Greek Goddess was Alcyone.


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1:15 AM  

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