Can You Guess the Compound Word From a Definition?


By: Beth Hendricks

6 Min Quiz

Image: Witthaya Prasongsin / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

The year was 2004, and the world was becoming obsessed with an Internet that literally allowed them to find anything by "logging on." A student at Harvard University grabbed hold of this increasingly-widespread technology in an attempt to get to know his classmates better. Prior to his "creation," the only way students had to pair someone's picture with their name was with a printed directory, akin to a yearbook. Mark Zuckerberg's solution for that was a platform that now has one billion active users: Facebook.

You're probably saying to yourself, "Yeah, but this isn't a quiz about social media." And you're right. But it is a quiz about compound words, a category the word "Facebook" most definitely falls into. The literal definition of Facebook is an online book of faces, via photos. Today, Facebook has evolved into much more, but the name has become as much a part of our lexicon as "baseball" and "wallpaper." 

Speaking of "baseball" and "wallpaper" ... and "Facebook," could you ever have imagined those three things have something in common? Indeed, they are all compound words, or the combination of two separate words to make one new word. Now, we want to know how well you know other fairly common compound words. Sniff out the clues in our definitions and pick the right compound word that matches. We know you'll do extraordinary (another compound word)! 

This is the word for a place that specializes in landing and taking off. What is it?

Almost certainly, you've been to an airport before, likely running to chase a flight before it leaves without you. The other compound word choices in this question all also deal with matters of the air, even "airhead," which is frequently used as a derogatory comment about someone's intelligence.


It's a large green area where games are played. Which word fits the definition?

If someone offers to take you out to the ballgame, they probably have a trip to the ballpark envisioned. Most references to "ballparks" are typically associated with baseball, rather than games with other balls, like football or basketball.


Considering yourself a bibliophile? This shop that sells reading materials is your go-to. What is it?

Oh, to get lost in a bookstore! Why is it you can spend hours walking around in a bookstore and time melts away, but 15 minutes in the grocery store feels like pure misery? Bookstores come in all shapes and sizes, from large chains to small independent storefronts.


The most common usage of this word represents the physical act of a person turning their body in a circular motion. Which word fits?

The quite literal definition of a cartwheel is, well, a wheel on a cart. Because cartwheels turn in a circular motion, the word is also used to represent an athletic maneuver where an individual turns their body feet over hands in a turning-wheel motion.


Visions that you indulge in your mind, maybe while you're at work, are known as which of these?

We aren't sure why dreams, while you're in bed for the night, aren't called "nightdreams," since "daydreams" appear to be their exact opposite. You can have nightmares, though, but nobody wants that.


The shape of the two things you see out of is reflected in which of these compound words?

Most people just refer to "eyes" as, well, "eyes," rather than "eyeballs," but both are correct. The word "eyeball" refers to the actual round shape of the structure that encapsulates your seeing apparatus.


What would you call vibrations that occur under the surface of the Earth?

The biggest earthquake to ever strike a location in the United States occurred in 1964 when a magnitude 9.2 earthquake was measured at Prince William Sound in Alaska. The vibrations from the earthquake were so strong that their impact was felt as far away as Seattle.


This is not your son or daughter but your son or daughter's son or daughter. What word is it?

We hope that question didn't confuse you, but it's true! A grandchild is your child's child. The prefix "grand" added to the word "child" represents a generation removed. So, a grandmother is a generation older, while a grandchild is a generation younger.


Metal devices put around an individual's wrists are known by which of these names?

While these metal devices don't actually go on the hands, they do restrict the movement of an individual's hand, essentially "cuffing" them. Handcuffs are metal rings that go around the wrists and, if you're wearing them, you're probably in trouble.


It's a game played by children that involves jumping over lines scratched into a flooring surface. What do we call it?

This one is a bit tricky because the history of "scotch" in this word comes from "scratch," a reference to the lines drawn for this childhood game. The "hop" part is easy, since hopping is an integral part of the game.


You can rest this device on your legs while sitting and close its lid when you're finished. What is it?

If a "desktop" is a computer meant to sit on the top of a desk, it stands to reason that a "laptop" is a computer meant to sit on the top of your lap. Of course, there are many other places you can place a laptop, such as on a table or counter, but "tabletop" and "countertop" were already taken.


Grab one of these dairy-based treats, mixed together by moving its ingredients quickly back and forth. Which word are we referencing?

Most milkshakes have ingredients that are blended together with some type of small electronic device rather than an actual "shaking" back and forth. Regardless, we call them milkshakes today ... and they're delicious if we do say so ourselves.


This is a structure that harbors a beacon to guide ships to safety. What's an easy word to remember it by?

Lighthouses have been around since the Egyptians first started using them some 2,000 years ago. Early lighthouses were likely just large bonfires on the beach. Today, lighthouses are actual towers that "house" lights to help guide boats at sea to safety.


A publication that tells you the latest headlines is known as what?

What would you call a paper full of news? Why, a newspaper, of course! The earliest newspaper dates back to the 1600s, and while the newspaper industry has taken a hit since the internet and social media have become so popular, you can still find them in just about every community in the country.


If you have a job, you get compensated in a paper or electronic version of one of these. Which is it?

Let's hear it for the almighty paycheck ... although we're sure most of you would like yours to be even more than what it already is. Before electronic deposits, paychecks were actual paper checks paying you for your time on the job.


Tiny slivers of ice crystals that fall to earth, particularly in colder climates, are known as what?

There's nothing quite like the first snowflakes of the season falling, especially to get you in a wintry, holiday mood. After a couple of months of it, though, we're good. Snowflakes are ice-based precipitation that falls to the earth.


It's an easier way to specify an "underground thoroughfare." Which word is the best choice?

For a good portion of the country, "Subway" is more reminiscent of a sandwich shop than an underground thoroughfare. But, in this instance, the compound word chosen for this quiz is a representation of a passage"way" sub- (or under) ground.


If something is resistant to high flames and temperatures, it is known as which of these?

The word fireproof is made up of two separate words: "fire" and "proof." When combined, it literally means that something is "proof against" fire, or resistant to fire, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.


This is a boundary for, typically, the back of a truck. What do we call it?

A "tailgate" is a boundary (like a gate) for the tail-end of something (in this case, a truck). Football fans also use this to reference a tailgate event, which typically involves enjoying food and drink from the back of a vehicle.


Got crazy-good skills or talent in a specific field? The world might call you this. What is it?

The compound word "superstar" comes from the words "super" and "star." Stars are bright and shining objects, so it stands to reason that a superstar is one that shines even more brightly. We usually use the word "superstar" in reference to celebrities or athletes.


You might do this on Thursdays! An act of returning to the past is known as what?

The most common instance of using the word "throwback" today is in reference to social media, where the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday is used to "throw it back" to something in the past. This is typically accompanied by an old photo or status.


It's a seat mounted with rotating disks, making an easier mobility solution. What do we know it as?

People with mobility issues rely on wheelchairs (literally, chairs with wheels) to make it simpler for them to get around. The first wheelchair known to have been used was designed for Spain's King Phillip II.


A piece of paper with business dealings on it could be called by which of these compound words?

Sheets of work — ain't nobody got time for that! Worksheets may exist from the earliest days of school until well after you've started a professional career. All of them are similar, requiring some amount of work to be entered onto the sheet itself.


You might use this word to designate the time period after 12 p.m. Which one is it?

The word "afternoon" usually encompasses the period of time from just after "noon," or 12 p.m., until the evening begins. To say "afternoon" means it's after the noon hour but could run as late at 5 or 6 p.m.


An impression of an appendage, like one left in sand, would be called which of these?

Have you ever heard of the famous poem called "Footprints in the Sand?" Well, it doesn't matter if you don't know the whole thing. The point is, footprints are impressions of feed left somewhere, such as those you leave when walking on the beach.


This plant earned its name for turning its bloom toward a star in the sky. What is it called?

Sunflowers are popular summer and early fall flowers that earned their name for the fact that they turn their blooms toward the sun. Their shape is also reminiscent of a round, sun-like shape.


Popular in the 1960s, this garment is named for a wide shape at its base. What would you call it?

Bellbottom pants and even jeans were especially common during the freewheeling decades of the 1960s and 1970s. They were named for their wide shape at the bottom of the hem that resembles the wide bottom of a bell's base.


Pass the syrup: Which of these means a flat slab cooked in a skillet?

A cake of batter cooked in a pan (or sometimes on a griddle) is known popularly as a "pancake." Now we're thinking of pancakes topped with warm syrup and butter ... wait, where were we?


Illumination from a waxen stick may be referred to as one of these terms. What is it?

Light from a candle, which is usually made of wax with a wick at its top, can be more succinctly referred to as "candlelight." The earliest candles were made from tallow and used frequently to illuminate a home before indoor electricity.


Babies sit in these, elevated from the floor to the height of a table or counter. What are they called?

Highchairs are specially made chairs for babies and toddlers, elevated at a raised height, to join more closely to a tabletop or counter. This is also a useful feature for adults who are trying to feed children while seated comfortably.


A storage space for a supply of goods could be called this. What is it?

A stockroom, interpreted as "a room in which to store stock," is a frequent addition to storefronts. After all, where is all that extra inventory going to be held? "Stock" refers to an excess of goods or supplies.


This is a person known for making footwear, and we love us some footwear. Which compound word represents this career?

Have you ever heard of the story, "The Elves and the Shoemaker?" In it, a shoemaker (or one who makes footwear) gets the assistance of some elves, who help him out in his time of misfortune.


You're new here, aren't you? Which of these words describes an infant who's just entered the world?

It's pretty easy to see what the word "newborn" means. If you take it at face value, you'll see that it's a person (or maybe an animal) who has been newly born. There's nothing more cuddly than a newborn, and we love that newborn smell. Ahh ...


Something that is prepared in your house is known as which of these?

Want something homemade? Then simply make it at home! No, it's not the "home" that made it, but the person whose home it is. Homemade compares favorably to things that are storebought or mass-produced.


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