Secret Stuff: Trivia on Trivia

Trivia World

A trivia dictionary

Every sub-culture has its own vocabulary, and trivia is no different. (Well, a little different. Our slang is funnier.)

What follows is an international collection of jargon, much of its from the US quiz bowl circuit.

  • Most of the US and UK definitions have been openly stolen with the generous co-operation of their authors (see links at the end), except for the NTN terms, which we've heard around. Jeopardy-related terms come from the J! message board.
  • Definitions from India (labelled Ind) have been provided by the members of the QuizNet junta.
  • We only claim credit for the Canadian terms (labelled Cdn), which we use with clients and suppliers or at our League Locations.

Note that some of these entries are included for their high amusement value, and probably aren't used much in the real world (or in what passes for the real word in quizzing circles).


Aglet n. 1. The plastic tip at the end of a shoelace. 2. Something that exists solely as the answer to trivia questions, particularly common to questions about phobias and animal collectives. 3. Something or someone that really does exist, but will soon come up only as the answer to a trivia question. Examples: Richard Hatch, Darva Conger. [Cdn]

Almanac question n. Dull questions produced by pillaging (q.v.) an almanac. Classic example. "What is the capital of Spain?" Generally produced by people like the client who once told me, "Why should I pay you this kind of money when I can pay a high-school student $5 an hour to open a book?" [Cdn]

Allusionist n. 1. A player who gets a difficult question based on a reference from popular culture. Particularly common among Bugs Bunny and Simpsons fans. 2. Any person who frequently quotes from the same pop culture sources, usually Monty Python, Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, or any of the various elements of so-called geek culture (science fiction, comics, video games, etc.) [US, by K. Michael Wilcox]

Anecdote n. A random, often weird story about a famous person, preferably unconnected to that person's real reason for renown, and usually used as an early clue in a tossup (q.v.). An example is a story about Alan Turing running laps around his house while playing chess. Too many anecdotes in questions can result in a phenomenon known as Anecdote Bowl. [US]

Apocrypha n. Oft-repeated, but completely wrong, trivia question. Classic example: Q) What is the only man-made object visible from space? A) The Great Wall of China. In fact, if you're close enough to see a thin ribbon of stone, you can see any number of objects. True apocrypha is indestructible, re-appearing over and over again in quizzes, editions of Trivial Pursuit and factoid books. Ant. Reverse apocrypha Syn. kitchen question (q.v.) [Cdn]

Auction n. Questions with a finite set of possible answers, allowing teams to keep guessing until one of them gets it right. For example, "Who was the oldest Beatle?" Ant Scattergories question (q.v). [Ind]


Balliol comma n. 1. A significant pause left by the quizmaster a few words into a question, adding undue emphasis to the importance of those words. 2. Although not used this way regarding Balliol, it can also be an opportunity for quizmasters to wait for a disliked team to ring in, rule them wrong, then implement a swerve (q.v.) or covertly change the question itself. [UK]

Batting average n. 1. A Jeopardy term, in which your total number of correct responses (including the DDs and FJ) is divided by 58 (the number of non-DD clues in the game) plus the number of DDs you find [US]

Bingo n, v. An answer that only one person on a team knows. Useful in Trivia Bowl and NTN type environments. [Cdn]

Blitz v. To ring in early and, unsure of the actual answer, to flood the moderator with related information in the hope that something in the blitzing will be right ("Gone with the Wind is by Margaret Mitchell, the MGM movie of which starred Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable"). The desperation of blitzing is easily mistaken for the showing off of spewing (q.v.) Ant. unblitz (offering only The Human Comedy when the real answer is Balzac). [US]

Borg bar n. A bar that uses laptops and high-speed Internet connections to answer NTN questions. Why anyone would choose to do this, I cannot say. [US]

Brain cramp n. The total forgetting or humorous misstatement of an answer, particularly if you knew the answer when you buzzed in. Often the source for inside jokes. May lead to durning (q.v.) Syn: brain fart, choke, blank, ook. [US]

Break points n. The scores at which point different Jeopardy wagering strategies kick in during Final Jeopardy. Note that these break point strategies leave out what the third-place player's score is and where that is in relation to yours. But ... hey ... you're playing to win. [US]

  • A lock: Forget it. My score is less than half yours. I'm done.
  • One half: My score is exactly half of yours. I need to bet it all. You should bet zero.
  • The Crush: My score is more than half, but not quite two-thirds, of yours. Named by Michael Dupee, who literally wrote the book on Jeopardy wagering, a crushed player may as well bet it all. After all, I only win if you get it wrong and I get it right anyway.
  • Two-thirds: My score at least two-thirds of yours, but not three-quarters. You will bet enough to win, even if I bet it all. I can either play it safe and bet zero, hoping that you get it wrong. Or, I can bet triple my score, minus double your score. This way, whether or not I get I right, I win if you get it wrong.
  • Three-quarters: My score is at least three-quarters yours, but not quite four-fifths. You will bet enough to win, even if I bet it all. So I can use the same technique as for a two-thirds break point, if I'm daring. But with the scores this close, you might bet zero. So I instead bet just enough to tie your present score, plus maybe a buck.
  • Four-fifths: My score is at least four-fifths yours. You will bet enough to win, even if I bet it all. My sneaky trick is to bet twice the difference between our scores, plus a buck. Or, if you're daring, and are good with sums, you can do that triple minus double trick again.

Britannica question n. A question obviously researched from a stodgy academic work. Usually sound, but rather dry. A variation on the straighoutta (q.v.). Common on Win Ben Stein's Money, so it can't be all bad. [Cdn]

Buzzer race n. Several people realizing the answer to a tossup at once and all attempting to buzz, with the winner being determined by total luck or a split second advantage in reflexes. Often results in the buzzer rage (q.v.). The classic example is "Who wrote Paradise Lost?" Syn. speed race. [UK]

Buzzer rage n. The frenetic pressing/hitting/destruction of one's buzzer when you have been beaten to it by someone else. Everything else had its "rages", so we thought it was about time quizzing got in on the action. [UK]

Buzzgasam n. Defined by some quizzers as "a feeling of overwhelming excitement that overcomes some players after a particularly good answer." [US]


Camussing (KAY-muss-ing) v. Being marked wrong on a correct answer because the quizmaster doesn't recognize it as the proper pronunciation. Named for French author Albert Camus (kay-MOO), the subject of a legendary example of the phenomenon. Ant. Yevshenko [US]

Canon n. A mythical list of every single topic that is considered "fair game" in trivia competition. Many people claim to know what is and is not in the canon, and by an eerie coincidence, tend to define canon as subjects in which they are expert. Ant. trash. [US]

Cassandra n. Somebody who had the correct answer, but was timidly talked out of it by more aggressive teammates. [US]

Chestnut n. A question everybody is sick of, having heard it so often. [Ind]

Claven n. A technically correct but nevertheless wrong answer. In Episode 182 of Cheers, aired January 18, 1990, Cliff Claven answered the Jeopardy clue "Archibald Leach, Bernard Schwartz, Lucille LeSueur" with "Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?" 2. A suicidal betting strategy in which greed overcomes common sense. In this case, Cliff had a runaway (qv) score, but nevertheless lost when he bet too big. [US]

Colvin science n. 1. Any science or math question that requires no knowledge of science or math, instead relying on trivia or Latin word roots. Named for Matt Colvin of the University of Maryland and Cornell (who was very sporting about allowing me to abuse his reputation in yet another lexicon). 2. Questions that require only cursory knowledge of the material. [US]

Coryat n. 1. A Jeopardy score in which results from wagering in DD and FJ is removed. Final Jeopardy is disregarded entirely and correct responses on Daily Doubles earn only the natural values of the clues. 2. The combined individual Coryat score of all three players, which is sometimes used to indicate how competitive a game is. 3. A 2-game champion, Karl Coryat, from 1996. [US]

Cricket pitch question n. 1. British or Indian questions that mystify Americans. 2. American questions, particularly about US politics or college sports, that baffle non-Americans. Such questions produce unusually ugly howls of protest from Canadians, which are best mollified with equivalent questions on Canadian topics, which most Canadian players won't get either. [UK]

Curve ball question n. A question that may or may not be a trick question. "Who broke baseball's colour barrier?" Probably Jackie Robinson, but it could refer to Fleet Walker, who played pro for Toledo in the 1880s. [Cdn]


Dirty knowledge n: Knowledge whose display may cause a person's teammates to edge away from him or her (usually him). It is appropriate to say "I feel dirty!" after answering such a question. Examples include questions about Dungeons and Dragons, sexual perversions, and Kenny G. If one has too much dirty knowledge, one is most likely a trash (q.v.) whore (q.v.). Many will forfeit easy points to conceal dirty knowledge. [US]

Double-decker n. Question that is actually two questions in one. To answer, "What classic TV series starred a man who also starred in an all-Esperanto movie called Incubus?" you have to first answer the question, "Who starred in all-Esperanto movie called Incubus?" (It was William Shatner, by the way.) [Cdn]

Doubling up v. A trivia writing technique in which the answer must satisfy both halves of the question. "In mythology, he held up the earth on his shoulders. On your shoulders, it's the name of the vertebra that holds up your head. What is it?" (It's Atlas, by the way.) Doubling up makes questions easier, more fun and less prone to disputes. (How many other vertebrae are named for mythic figures who hold the earth on their shoulders?) [Cdn]

Durning: v. 1. Loud theatrics from players who vaguely remember a question's answer, but cannot quite spit it out. Particularly common when the question is a favourite subject of the durning party. 2. Loud theatrics from players who do know the answer, but cannot reply because it is the other team's turn. Particularly common when the question is a favourite subject of the durning party. [A portmanteau word combining "darn" with "gurning," meaning "to overact a death scene."] [US]


Epsilon n. An arbitrary award for an answer that, while totally wrong, is knowledgeable or at least amusing. [US]

Excuse n. An attempt to save face after negging (q.v.) badly, giving a strange or ridiculous answer, or failing to buzz in on a question that one was expected to buzz on. Excuses may be legitimate or completely fabricated. Many of the terms defined here, including anecdote (q.v), neg bait (q.v) , obvious bowl (q.v), reflex question (q.v) and swerve (q.v) may be used as excuses in certain situations. [US]


Factoid n. A small, irrelevant piece of information which sheds no light on a subject, but which is nonetheless interesting or amusing. Similar to an anecdote (q.v.) but shorter. With anecdotes, one of the primary components of many quiz bowl questions. An example of a factoid is the fact that Martin Luther was the son of a copper miner. [Cdn]

Faith Love n. 1. A 2002 Jeopardy player who won five games, despite never once getting Final Jeopardy right. 2. A betting strategy named in honour of her Game Two bet, in which the scores were $10,400-$9,200-$4,600 and she bet $0, winning on a Triple Stumper. 3. A wagering strategy for when you're winning going into FJ and your score is equal to at least twice the difference between the scores of the second- and third-place players. In this case, you should bet $0, on the assumption that the #2 player will bet to tie in order to avoid losing to #3 player by accident. [US]

Find-your-ass adj. A question as easy as finding one's rectal cavity and its surrounding flesh. Sometimes identified by literally locating one's posterior on not buzzing in fast enough. Syn. sitter. [US]

Frosting n. 1. What the Americans call a cake's icing. 2. The extra writer-ly oomph that gives a question flair. Instead of, "What is keelhauling?" try "If Johnny Depp and his Pirates of the Caribbean seize the Titanic and keelhaul Leonardo di Caprio, what will they be doing to him?" [US]

Funda n. (s or pl). A wave of associated facts around a trivia question or answer. Useful for bliztes (q.v.) and spewing (q.v.). (Short for fundamentals.) [Ind]


Girl knowledge n. Trivia subjects in which the traditional quizzing male-bias is reversed. Generally seen as the more socially acceptable cousin of dirty knowledge (q.v.), it includes pretty much everything to do with cooking, fashion, interior design, daytime television (especially soaps), boy bands and Leonardo di Caprio. [UK]

Google n. An answer found by searching Google or some other search engine. [Ind]

Googly n. A fair, but deceptively tricky, question. What is the star closest to earth? The sun, of course. From a cricket term in which a ball is pitched so that it turns in an unexpected direction. [Ind]

Guinness question n. Question to which the answer is an utterly obscure numbers. Often produced by flipping through the Guinness Book of World Records. Classic example: "How heavy was the world's biggest hamburger." Useful as tiebreakers, but otherwise the most odious of all the variations of the dreaded almanac question (q.v.). 2. Any generally useless or stupid question, typically of the sort of trash that now fills the Guinness Book of World Records, a book of rapidly declining quality. So there. [Cdn]


Hardcore adj. 1. Ridiculously difficult trivia questions. 2. Ridiculously dedicated trivia fans. [US]


Idiot page n. The second page of scores in an NTN game. [Cdn]

Inverse PPG/GPA Theory n. The idea that studying to improve one's quiz bowl play and studying to do well in school are mutually exclusive tasks. Nearly universal phenomenon among Quiz Bowl players. [US]


Jeeks n. 1. Returning 2000 Jeopardy champion Jeeks Rajagopal, who found herself going into Final Jeopardy in a three-way tie. 2. A betting strategy that says in such a situation, you should bet all or nothing. Rajagopal all but $200 of her money and finished third. [US]

Junta n. pl. A tight-knit group of trivia fans, often in some position of intellectual authority over the mundanes (q.v.) around them. [Ind]


Kitchen question n. Defined by Suresh Ramasubramanian as "A question 'cooked up' by the over-fertile brain of a quizmaster. Often due to bad knowledge or wrong interpretation of facts, or (with some quizmasters) just for the heck of it." Such questions tend to have the same tendency to viral self-perpetuation as apocrypha (q.v.), except through the quiz circuit rather than in printed material. [Ind]

Killer n. Obscenely difficult questions to separate the wheat from the chaff, particularly in competitions in which all teams answer all questions, and at which there are either a large number of teams or an exceptionally large number of sharpshooters (q.v.). [Cdn]


Lach trash n. 1. A Jeopardy Triple Stumper you knew watching at home. 2. A game that could be decided entirely based on Triple Stumpers, which five-time champ Doug Lach once considered the definition of a bad game.

Lame n., v. 1 In some quiz bowl competitions, once per game a team can declare a bonus question lame and switch it, doing so during the preamble/setup but before they are prompted for the first answer. Risks a steal (q.v.), however. 2. The act of calling a lame. 3. As Paul Bailey reports, "This is a good way to ditch the Star Trek, Chick Flick or other question totally unsuitable for your team's talents." [US]

List n., pl. -s. 1. A word shouted aloud to identify whores (q.v.) who memorize trivia-worthy material, particularly Oscar winners, celebrity birthdays, and World Cup championship results. 2. Stupid pun regarding the composer of Hungarian Rhapsodies. [US]

Live round n. A largely Indian phenomenon in which live models (usually pretty women) demonstrate dances, clothes and so forth. Sometimes, live rounds use local celebrities. [Ind]


Martian betting n. Tendency on Jeopardy to bet aggressively, aiming for large scores. Martian betters also aim to knock out potential rivals in Final Jeopardy, rather than allow them to tie. Ant. Venusian betting (q.v.) [US]

MAWG n. Middle Aged White Guy. Folklore says certain mid-level Millionaire questions are deliberately designed as "MAWG stoppers." [US]

Minutia n. 1. Little bits of data that really are too obscure or irrelevant, even for trivia events. Something literally too trivial to be trivia. Paul Bailey's example being "Asking to identify the make, model, and year of manufacture of a bus that happens to be in a few frames of a film that has no bearing on the plot." 2. A knowing reference to Fred L Worth, whose trivia encyclopedia devoted page after page to license plate numbers. Syn. obscurism (q.v.) [US]

Muggle n. Somebody with almost no trivia skill who nevertheless can be found playing, often as part of teams in live environments, such as pubs. [Cdn]

Mundane n. 1. Somebody not interested in trivia. 2. An "amateur" or first-time trivia player. 3. Anybody who has ever asked, "Why on earth do you know that?" [US]


Neg n., v. Interrupting the reading of a tossup question with an incorrect answer, thus earning a five-point penalty in most college tournaments. Negs can produce massive outbursts of emotion in players, sometimes resulting in the use of the unpleasant words and in damage to buzzer systems, particularly since it is almost certain that all other teammates will have known the answer. On the other hand, aggressive, confident players will neg frequently. Many events honour the worst offenders. Syn. interruption penalty. [US]

Neg bait n. A question designed to provoke negs. Syn. left turn question [US]

Niche of one n. A question that appeals to exactly one person ... the quizmaster. [Ind]

Nil scio nec nescio 1. Latin for "I know nothing except that I am ignorant." 2. Motto of the Oxford University Quiz Society. [UK]

NTN n. Satellite-based pub-trivia system. Possibly an acronym for National Trivia Network. [US]


Obscurism n. An extreme sort of hardcore, based on impossibly difficult factoids that even experts in the field would have difficulty with. Common among almanac questions (q.v.). Syn. minutia (q.v.) [Cdn]

Obvious Bowl n. A type of tossup in which the answer is the first thing that pops into every player's head early in the question, but on which everyone refrains from buzzing because they think the answer might be a little more obscure, resulting in great frustration when someone finally buzzes in with the correct answer. An obvious bowl tossup may also be called a find-your-ass question. [US]


Philistine n. A devotee of popular culture, especially one who gives silly answers to high-art questions in matches. [UK]

Philbinizing v. 1. Grotesque mispronunciation of words in a question. Named for Millionaire host Regis Philbin, who once had a contestant help him pronounce the names of the four dinosaurs among the possible answers. 2. Rare. Dressing really well. (Not used often in quizzing circles.) [Cdn]

Pillaging v. To squeeze every trivial iota possible out of a particularly good source. Increases the risk of straightouttas (q.v.). [Cdn]

Pinning v. Writing your question so that it precisely matches the facts on hand, and so that the question points to one and only one answer. [US]

Plot point question n. Question that requires you to have seen the movie, read the book or heard the song in order to answer it correctly. Generally undesirable, but very popular on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. There is a fine line between plot point questions and questions that are part of the general trivia canon (q.v.). [Cdn]

Premature excitation n. Defined as, "Answering a question that you were sure you had the correct answer to, only to neg (q.v.), often deflating a planned buzzgasam (q.v.)." Worse, premature excitation can be combined with a brain cramp (q.v.) or with a subsequent discovery that the correct answer would have been obvious with a just a slight delay in buzzing. [US]

Psychic answering n. 1. On the way to or at a tournament, discussing with teammates subjects that turn out to be asked later at that tournament. 2. Giving an incorrect answer to a tossup which turns out to be an answer in a later round (or very rarely, later in the same round). If the player who psychic answered in the first place gets the answer the second time, he or she should triumphantly say "Now it's [whatever the answer was]." If the player does not get the answer the second time, he or she should say in disgust, "Now it's [whatever the answer was]." [US]


Quiz goggles n. Optical illusion by which the scarcity of women at quizzes makes them appear much more attractive than they really are. Also known to occur at science fiction conventions and wherever war-gamers or RPG fans gather. (Oddly, this phenomenon seems to be reversed at the live trivia pub games I run, which attract an unusually large number of babes.) Syn. Comeliness Dilation Effect [US]


Reflex question n. A tossup in which several players will almost certainly recognize the answer from the same clue, sometimes after long passages of vague unclues (q.v.), and will then engage in a buzzer race (q.v.). If a moderator recognizes a long reflex question, he may substitute "blah blah blah" for portions of the question before the reflex giveaway. A popular excuse (q.v.) for not getting tossups. [US]

Reverse apocrypha n. Similar to apocrypha (q.v.), except that the factoid being debunked is in fact true. Fairly rare, but the best example is this: Q) Who is the Baby Ruth chocolate bar named for. A) Ruth Cleveland. (Although this is the line offered by the company too cheap to pay Babe Ruth for the rights to his name, it defies probability that in the 1920s, at the height of Ruth's fame, you'd name a chocolate bar for the obscure offspring of a mediocre president from two decades earlier.) [Cdn]

Runaway n. A Jeopardy score in which Final Jeopardy is irrelevant, because I have more than twice the nearest opponent's score.


Sandbag v. Holding an NTN answer to yourself, even though you are supposed to be playing collectively. Sandbaggers usually either pretend that their answer was too much of a guess to be shared, or are subtle enough to offer the answer once the point countdown starts, so that nobody else gets the thousand points. Syn. vulture. Ant. vomit [US].

Scattergories question n. 1. Poorly written question with so many possible answers that it would be better suited to the game Scattergories. 2. Poorly written question with one intended answer, but many other possibilities. For example, What animal did Hannibal's army take across the Alps? Elephants, to be sure, but probably also horses, dogs, rats, fleas, lice and so forth. Ant. auction (q.v.) [Cdn]

Sit n. To recognize the answer to a question before anyone else but, because of lack of confidence in one's own knowledge or for fear of a neg (q.v.), to wait for an easier clue, often resulting in a buzzer race (q.v.) or in someone else buzzing in first. Sitting is often used as an excuse (q.v.), particularly since it is impossible to disprove. [US]

Sharpshooter n. An exceptional trivia player, usually a given team's star. [Cdn]

Soapbox question n. Politically inspired questions, often derived from dubious talking points repeated in ranting blogs. [Cdn]

Spermology n. Literally the collection of seeds, this is also a fancy-pants word for the love of trivia.

Spewing v. Adding extra related but purely unnecessary and unsolicited information after getting an answer right. Oddly, spewing never seems to produce the intended awe and admiration. Spewing often is a by-product of blitzing (q.v.). [US]

Stamp comma n. Like the Balliol comma (q.v.), but relating to Ontario Reach for the Top host Michelle Stamp, who would often phrase questions as, "What is the capital of ..." and leave the game hanging until somebody rang in with a wild guess. [Cdn]

Stale-dated adj. Question that has been rendered obscure by recent developments that the quizmaster doesn't know about. Questions that ask for record holders or for the "only" person to do something are likely candidates for being stale-dated. [Cdn]

Steal n, v 1. If somebody uses a lame (q.v.), the other team can take that really cool Star Trek, Chick Flick, or other question and have it held for them until the next time that they answer a tossup correctly. 2. The act of calling a steal. [US]

Straightoutta interj. 1. Usu. followed by a source name. As in "That's straightoutta An Incomplete Education." Indicates that the question has used wording remarkably like that of the reference book, or that the set of questions bears a remarkable similarity to the set-up of a reference book. Guaranteed to embarrass quizmasters, who like it to be imagined that they personally went to Bangkok to verify that it is called the Venice of the East. [Cdn]

Sweep n, v 1. A team gets all the possible bonus points in a tossup-bonus quiz bowl type competition 2. The act of sweeping Ant. dud. [US]

Sweetener n. An extra hint [Ind]

Swerve n. A question whose lead-in seems to be talking about one subject, even if the potential answer is unclear, but suddenly turns out to be about another subject entirely, causing many negs (q.v.) before the swerve and buzzer races (q.v.) after. Syn. neg bait (q.v.), hose, left-turn question. [US]


Tease-out Metric n. 1. The degree to which a question can be figured out based on clues buried within it, used especially in discussion of Jeopardy

Toss-up n. A starter question. (Usage note: This term amuses British quizzers enormously, particularly when called "power toss-up.") [US]

Trash n. pej. (Acronym: Testing Recall About Strange Happenings.) 1. A type of tournament using questions discarded as worthless by other tournaments. 2. Questions about pop culture, sports or dirty knowledge (q.v.) as opposed to more academic or high-brow trivia (Literature, History, Science and Math, Social Science, Fine Arts, Geography, and Religion). 3. A point of pride for the TRASH organization. They're here. They're trashy. Get used to it. [US]

Trivial Pursuit n. 1. Board game produced in Montreal by two newspaper reporters, which often includes questions with correct answers. 2. Proof that Canadians have an unusual aptitude for trivia. 3. Proof that journalists have too much free time [Cdn]

Trudeau, Pierre n. 1. A prime minister of Canada. 2. The traditional first answer at World Trivia Night. 3. An obvious attempt to copy the Robert Redford first-answer tradition at the WWSP event in Madison, Wisconsin.


Unclue n. A vague or unhelpful passage in a tossup, supposedly a clue but really just filler before any actual clue, that clue probably leading to a reflex buzz. An example of an unclue is "he is known for his use of colours and portrayal of nature" in a tossup about a painter. Also called a nonclue or simply referred to in practice by the moderator saying "blah blah blah" and players making various derogatory hand motions. [US]

Up-your-street adj. Question in a subject about which one team member happens to be expert, particularly if arcane. As Rajiv Rai explains, "On most occasions, the poor soul is under so much pressure that he muffs it." Syn. In your wheelhouse. [Ind]


Venusian betting n. Tendency on Jeopardy to bet conservatively and defensively, or for the leader going into Final Jeopardy to bet in such a way to enable a tie, on the mathematically dubious proposition that your odds of surviving the game are better that way. Ant. Martian betting (q.v.) [US]

Vomit v. To scream out completely wrong answers, which confuse and distract your team members. [US]

Vulture v., n. 1. To buzz in on a tossup after the other team has already missed it but before the moderator is finished reading the question, hence forfeiting the team's advantage and running the risk of a swerve (q.v.). In untimed rounds, even correct vultures are discouraged, being very annoying to one's teammates, and incorrect vultures are one of the most heinous of quiz bowl crimes. Vultures are occasionally advisable in timed rounds. Syn. vulch, swoop, pickoff. 2. To keep an answer entirely to yourself, as in NTN, while listening to other's answers. Syn. vulch, sandbag [US]


Walsh Whoops: n. Named for 7-time Jeopardy champ Tom Walsh, who if leading in Final Jeopardy would bet just enough to tie if his nearest competitor bet it all. While semi-sound mathematically, it means letting a strong player get another shot at you, and after considerable practice on the buzzer, too. Walsh lost his eighth game after letting somebody tie in his seventh. [US]

Whore n. 1. One who spends too much time studying trivia or who gets a question on some very strange and difficult clue. Applied with a mix of loathing and admiration in the exclamation. There are varieties reflecting expertise in certain areas, such as trash (q.v.) whore. 2. A person who cares far too much about his or her individual stats, causing him or her to vulture (q.v.) frequently, persist in protests of questions that have no bearing on the outcome of games, and even read some questions before practice. [US]

Wooden spoon n. A traditional prize given to a last-place team. Not usually a literal wooden spoon. [Cdn]

Work-out-able adj. n., adj. Question that can be worked out with a lot of thought, based on clues in the question itself. Example: "I'm a London film student named Duncan Jones. My last name is actually my father's real last name. My middle name is Greek for 'life' and was picked by my mother, whose name is Angie." (Answer: Zowie Bowie.) [Ind]

Wu Wow: n. 1. Named for 2004 Jeopardy Teen Champ Jennifer Wu, who overcame a huge deficit after Game 1 of a two-game final to win Game 2 and, thus, the tournament. 2. Proof that staying calm under fire can help you win the game. [US]


X n. A mark made next to incorrect answers, usually in red. [International]


Yevshenko n A mispronounced or otherwise mangled answer that is accepted as correct. Named for an incident where "Yevshenko" was deemed close enough to the name of Russian poet Yevgeny YevTUshenko. Particularly irksome when the mispronounced answer is in fact something entirely different (such as Pythagoras for Protogoras). Ant. camussing [US]


Z n. 1. Last letter in the alphabet. 2. What Canadians mean when they say "zed." [International]

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Many of these definitions come from the lexicons below, with the kind permission of their authors.

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