Today is the anniversary of the 1955 premier of the $64,000 Question on CBS. Today we take game shows for granted, but in the early days of television these "quiz shows" were high stakes dramas that mesmerized the television audience and posted record ratings. The $64,000 Question spawned a number of successful imitators: The Big Surprise, Dotto, Tic Tac Dough, and Twenty One.
The success of the quiz shows ended, however, in 1958 when a scandal surfaced where evidence showed that the results of the shows were rigged. As a result, the quiz show craze died, and the networks stopped airing game shows (1). Games shows did not gain favor with the public again until the 1960s when shows like Jeopardy began to attract viewers (See Word Daze March 30). In fact it is not until the '60s that the term game show replaced quiz show.
It is interesting that tracking down the history of the word quiz has left lexicographers somewhat quizzical.
One story involves James Daly, a theater manager in Dublin. In 1791, Daly supposedly made a bet with a friend, saying he could introduce a new word into the language within a single day. He then created the nounce (or nonsense) word quiz and paid people to write the word in chalk on walls throughout the city. By the end of the day, the word was on everyone’s lips (2).
Although this is a good story, it probably is not true. Instead quiz is probably just a clipped version of the word inquisitive, an adjective meaning "unduly curious and inquiring."
Today’s Challenge: Quiz VII
On the seventh day of the month, try this quiz relating to various things relating to the number seven.
1. Using the mnemonic device WASPLEG, what are the Seven Deadly Sins?
2. The Seven Seas are frequently referenced in ancient literature. What are the names of the three seas that begin with the letter A?
3. Which of the Seven Wonders of the World is an eponym that originates from the name of an ancient king of Persia?
4. Which month of the year features the Latin root meaning seven?
5. What is the word that means a person between 70 and 79 years of age?
6. According the Book of Genesis, what did God do on the seventh day after creating the world?
7. Which of the seven days of the week is named after the Anglo-Saxon god Woden?
Quote of the Day: Fall seven times, stand up eight. –Japanese Proverb
1. Wrath, avarice, sloth, pride, lust, envy, gluttony 2. Adriatic Sea, Aegean Sea, Arabian Sea 3. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. It is the gigantic tomb of King Maussollos 4. September 5. Septuagenarian 6. He rested. 7. Wednesday
1- The Museum of Broadcast Communications: http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/S/htmlS/$64000quest/$64000quest.htm
2- Manswer, Martin. The Guinness Book of Words (2nd Edition). Middlesex: Guinness Publishing Ltd., 1988.