Quiz on words and phrases

Joy Bhattacharjya | Updated on December 26, 2020

Trendsetter: Japan’s bullet train, or the “shinkansen”, speeds past Mount Fuji, west of Tokyo   -  REUTERS

‘Sharent’ for a parent who regularly uses social media to share details about his or her children and ‘techlash’ for a backlash against large tech companies are some of the words that were coined and gained currency in 2020. This week’s quiz is all about words and phrases and their origins:

It’s only words

1 Easy one to start with. Groupie, bullet train, Agent Orange, Black Panther, space-walk and zip code were all coined in which decade?

2 On the same lines T-shirts, Fascism, fridges, robots, car-parks, broadcast, commentary and science fiction entered the dictionary in which decade?

3 Faint-hearted, fancy-free, green-eyed, brave new world and crack of doom were all phrases coined by which author?

4 The MTV series Laguna Beach coined a five-letter word meaning ‘finished’ or ‘complete’ which had made its way to dictionaries and is also the name of an Indian start-up. Which word?

5 Guessable! Which author borrowed the Spanish word for testicles, ‘cojones’, to indicate courage, which duly made its way into the English dictionary?

6 Which phrase about an Indian coin made its way into the English dictionary and ended up being used by film star Clark Gable in a famous film in 1939?

7 Happy Days was an extremely popular American television show. But in 1977, an incident involving Fonzie, one of the main characters, resulted in a phrase being coined which is still in use. Which phrase?

8 Though it was earlier supposed to have been used by actual intelligence services, a specific work of fiction brought the word ‘mole’ for a sleeper agent into common usage. Just name the work.

9 Which cricketing term came into usage thanks to a collection organised by fans in 1858 to buy a gift for a certain HH Stephenson for his great bowling performance?

10 The coronavirus epidemic has also resulted in the coinage of a host of new words and phrases. What is the meaning of the word ‘blursday’?


1 1960s.

2 1920s.

3 William Shakespeare.

4 Dunzo.

5 Ernest Hemingway, who also first used ‘spook’ and ‘spooked’ to indicate being frightened.

6 “I don’t give a damn”; dam or damri was a copper coin of little value used in India.

7 ‘Jumping the shark’, which refers to shows or franchises reaching a point when far-fetched events are included merely for the sake of novelty, indicative of a decline in quality. Fonzie actually jumped over a shark while water-skiing.

8 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John Le Carré.

9 Hat-trick. The English cricketer had taken three wickets in consecutive deliveries and they presented him with a hat.

10 An unspecified day. Because of work from home, people are often not sure which day of the week it is.


Joy Bhattacharjya is a quizmaster;

Twitter: @joybhattacharj

Published on December 26, 2020

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