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Etymologia (that’s Greek for you)

Via Talk Wordy to Me, I attempted the etymology quiz. It gives you 10 random questions on word origins with multiple-choice answers.

I got 7 out of 10, which was much better than I expected. There was only one lucky guess, as a matter of fact. The rest were comparatively “simple” questions about etymology of agnostic or beer and meaning of free verse, but I’m also very proud to have known where azimuth or typhoon came from and of making a very educated guess on arachibutyrophobia (which is a fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth, in case you’re wondering).

Where I most royally stumbled was “What does the phrase apple of one’s eye really mean?”. I did not expect the choice of “From the ancient belief that the pupil of the eye was a solid, apple-shaped body” to be the right answer.

Feel free to try and let me know how you did.


  1. Brian Greenberg

    5 of 10 for me, also better than I expected. 3 or 4 of the 5 I got right were lucky (or at least, educated) guesses. The only one I knew for sure was the etymology of “assassin,” which I knew because I read Angels & Demons, precursor to The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

  2. Sasha

    Good one!

    Surprisingly, I got 7 out of 10. The “ketchup” got me; who knew it’s Chinese for the “spine of the fish”

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