A fiendish vocabulary quiz

A Fiendish Vocabulary Quiz

Solomon Golomb, A&S '51

Note: For more than 25 years, Golomb's Gambits has been a popular feature in the magazine. Sol Golomb passed away in May, but Gambits will continue with reprints of past puzzles. The following first appeared in February 1996.

Here are words you may never have used in casual conversation. But at least the quiz is multiple choice. To assist you further, each word is designated as either (n) for noun, (v) for verb, or (a) for adjective. See how many you can get without consulting a dictionary.


a. Turn into a deity. b. Place alongside something similar. c. Address an absent person as though present. d. Abandon one's religious or political faith for another one.

2. CHILIAD (n)

a. A period of one thousand years. b. A division of the Persian army. c. A commercial for hot peppers. d. An ancient Greek epic.

    a. The propagation of spore-bearing plants.

    b. The transformation of new snow into névé.

    c. The science or practice of fireplace construction.

    d. The arboriculture of coniferous trees.


a. Characterized by a jumbled mixture of languages. b. Exhibiting a low level of intelligence. c. Made from hollow tubes of pasta. d. Designed or executed on a large scale.

[Solutions below.]


  1. d. Not to be confused with apotheosize or apostrophize, as in "a" and "c."

  2. a. Pronounced kiliad, and from the same Greek root that gave us the prefix kilo-; a chiliad is a millennium.

  3. b. Firn is a synonym for névé, the hard, icy stuff snow turns into in cold climates.

  4. a. Not moronic, "b"; nor "made from macaroni," "c."