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Frontline Quiz

Frontline Quiz

Print edition : Jun 03, 2022 T+T-

Neil Gaiman.


Kolkata: Customers at a restaurant during the opening of 'Taj City Centre New Town' hotel, in Kolkata, Saturday, May 7, 2022. (PTI Photo)(PTI05_07_2022_000197A)


FILE PHOTO: The logo for IBM is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD

1. One theory for the origin of this phrase has to do with public punishment in medieval times wherein the convict was tied and whipped and then moved and locked up elsewhere for the purpose of public amusement. Another theory suggests that the phrase came from tennis. Etymologists fluctuate between the two theories, which is ironic, given what the phrase means. What is the phrase?

2. Commissioned by IBM, the X font was designed for typewriters by Bud Kettler in 1955. It was nearly released with the name “Messenger”. But after giving it some thought, Kettler said: “A letter can be just an ordinary messenger or it can be the X, which radiates dignity, prestige and stability.” Name the font.

3. The word _____ arrived in English in the 1840s so that upper-class male archaeologists could talk about something they had found in Pompeii without anyone else knowing what they were talking about. What is the word?

4. For some time after its invention, it was called a louisette. It was later named after a French physician and death penalty opponent who proposed its use (but did not invent it) as a more humane alternative to the then used methods of carrying out the death penalty. Name the invention.

5. In pre-colonial times, it was fairly obscure, known mainly to academic philosophers and theologians. It entered popular discourse only after Governor General Warren Hastings commissioned a translation from Charles Wilkins in 1785. August Schlegel translated it into German in 1823, and Gandhi’s own introduction to it was through Edwin Arnold’s 1885 translation, The Song Celestial. What are we talking about?

6. This word was originally used for the very fine powder produced by the sublimation of the natural mineral stibnite to form antimony trisulphide. It was considered to be the essence or “spirit” of this mineral. It was used as an antiseptic, eyeliner and cosmetic. The meaning of the word was then extended to substances that were products of such a process. Name the word.

7. Responding to a claim by a commenter, the writer Neil Gaiman said: “All of a sudden I felt like someone who'd been informed that she wasn't actually a hooker; that in fact she was a lady of the evening.” What was the comment to which Gaiman was responding?

8. The linguistic practice of pronouncing acronyms as a single word only really took off during the Second World War (the word “acronym” itself came into being in 1940), which gave rise to words like AWOL (absent without official leave), radar (radio detection and ranging) and snafu, which stands for what?

9. The word restaurant (meaning “something restoring”) was first used in France in the 16th century to refer to a highly concentrated, inexpensive dish, sold by street vendors, which was advertised as an antidote to physical exhaustion. In 1765, a Parisian entrepreneur opened a shop specialising in such dishes. This prompted the use of the modern word “restaurant” for eating establishments. Name the dish.

10. The modern version is usually made of cotton or linen, along with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), although historically it was made from hemp, which gave the fabric its name. What is the fabric?

11. Their head cavities are filled with a particular kind of wax. Scientists are not sure what the wax does exactly, but they think it may help with buoyancy or echolocation. Early seamen mistook the head wax for _____, which is how it got its name. What am I talking about?

12. The Venetian ducat coin, colloquially known as “zecchino”, stopped being minted after the Napoleonic invasion of Italy. It was then that the name was taken up in France to designate what it means today. What am I talking about?



1. From pillar to post

2. Courier

3. Pornography, which meant “drawings of sex workers”

4. Guillotine, after Dr Joseph-Ignace Guillotin

5. Bhagavad Gita

6. Alcohol, from al-kohl

7. On the difference between graphic novels and comic books

8. Situation normal: All fouled (or f*****) up

9. Soup

10. Canvas, from cannabis

11. Sperm whale

12. Sequin



Yooti Bhansali is a writer and editor whose interests lie at the intersection of creativity and culture. You can find her on Instagram at @y00ti.

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