Can You Pass an 8th Grade Spelling Test From 1912?

Tasha Moore

Image: ilbusca/Digital Vision Vector/Getty Images

About This Quiz

OK, people. It's time to prove that 21st-century folks have what it takes to master 8th-grade vocabulary from the year 1912! Do your due diligence by taking this spelling test stuffed with 1912 words that will surprise you. As you'll soon see, some words have dropped from the lexicon, but many of them lived on and now possess a similar or different meaning.

And 1912 was such a pivotal time; the first World War was just a few years off, which changed everything, including how people communicated with each other. Loads of words were added after such a momentous event. In this quiz, we get to imagine a world at peace with itself. There were significant events that occurred in 1912, such as the start of the Republic of China, New Mexico and Arizona joining the U.S. as the 47th and 48th states of the union, and the Balkan War, which began in October 1912 ... oh, darn! So much for a world at peace with itself.

Nevertheless, this quiz will take you back to a time when 20th-century tots spewed big words like "yponomeutidae" and "ignominious" every chance they got. Can you pass an 8th-grade spelling test from 1912? Scroll on and see about it!

What is the correct spelling of the word that describes a geometrical figure?

In 1912, a tetrahedron was described as "a geometric shape that includes no more than four equilateral triangles." It was also "a figure with a polygon base and four equilateral triangular faces," or "one of five ordinary solids." A more modern definition of a tetrahedron is "a solid formed with four plane faces."

Can you identify the "lullaby"?

Definitions for "berceuse" included "a song for a crib" and "a softhearted musical composition." The word first appeared in 1876 and is derived from the Old French "bercier," meaning "to rock" a baby in a cradle.

Which is the correct word for "strangler"?

"Garroter" means "someone guilty of the offense of garroting." "Garrotte," with an extra letter "t," is a 1620s word that described a "Spanish style of capital punishment by way of strangulation." A 1912 definition of "garrote," with one letter "t," is "to seize someone by the throat, causing the person to be weak in order to easily rob him."

It's a "concise literary or musical work." Do you recognize the correct spelling?

A 1912 definition of "opuscule" was "a minuscule work" or "brochure." The term first appeared in 1530 to mean "a minor or petty work," a synonym for "opusculum."

What is the correct name of the "rock used to build an arch"?

In 1912, a "voussoir" was described as "one of the wedge-shaped stones used to make a bridge's arc." The term was first used in 1728 to mean "a wedge-like element used to construct an arch or a vault."

In 1912, it was described as "a magic lamp." Can you spot the correct spelling?

The 1912 definition for "sciopticon" was "a magic lamp for presenting photographs." The word is rarely used today.

Which one of these choices is the correct spelling for "someone who lends money"?

The 1912 definition of the word "usurer" hasn't changed. It has been defined as "someone who lends money at steep interest rates."

Do you know the correct spelling of the gymnospermous plant's name?

Today, "welwitschia" means "a desert plant found in southwestern Africa." A 1912 definition is "plant of Africa that produces only two large leaves."

It's the name of a toy, but trying to spell the difficult word is not a game. Can you identify the correct spelling?

The "thaumatrope" was a popular optical toy in the 19th century. A formal definition from 1912 is "an optical toy that presents the continuance of an illusion to the eye after a lucent element is removed."

Can you choose the correct spelling of the word that means "talkative"?

"Loquacious" currently means "possessing a tendency to talk a great deal," the same as it did in 1912. The adjective first appeared in the 1660s.

This word means "deerlike." What is the correct spelling?

"Cervine" first appeared around 1828 to mean "similar to a deer." A nuanced definition of "cervine" from 1912 was "of a tawny-brown or taupe color."

The essence of this word is "balance." What is the correct spelling?

"Equipoise" first appeared in the 1650s as a contraction of the phrase "equal poise," which is a 1550s expression. A modern definition of "equipoise" is "a counterbalance of strength or principals."

What is the correct spelling of this zoology term?

"Avicularium" is a zoology term that means "minor clasping process that mimics a bird's head that's seen on certain bryozoans." A 1912 definition includes the clause: "that continually nips; seen in a substantial number of Polyzoa."

Can you identify the correct spelling of the word that means "fertile"?

The modern definition of "fecund" means "the skill to generate a lot of progeny or outgrowth." In 1912, "fecund" meant "fruitful" or "prolific."

What is the correct spelling of the "prison"?

"Calaboose" first appeared in 1792 as an American term that means "prison." The word is derived from the Spanish word "calabozo," which means "dungeon."

Can you identify the correct spelling of the recording instrument?

In 1912, "kymograph" was defined as "a device used for calculating blood pressure." Today, a "kymograph" is "an apparatus that pictorially records motion and pressure."

This word means "humiliating." What is the correct spelling?

"Ignominious" first appeared in the 15th century to mean "dishonorable" and "distinguished by humiliation." In 1912, the term held similar meanings: "scandalous," "shameful" and "infamous."

In 1912, this was a word for a "genus of small opossum."

The modern term that resembles "marmose" is "marmoset," which is "a little Central or South American primate." A 1912 definition of the now-archaic term "marmose" was "a genus of little opossum."

What's the right spelling for the name of this "bird" or "unit of money"?

A 1912 definition of "quetzal" is "bird of paradise from America." Today's definitions are more elucidating. A "quetzal" is "a trogon family bird as seen in the American tropical forests." "Quetzal" is also defined as "a basic unit of Guatemalan money."

This word is an archaic term for "drum," and it's the current name for "eardrum." Can you identify the correct spelling?

"Tympanum" is most commonly associated with "eardrum." Definitions include: "membrane wall that divides the internal ear from the external ear," "an empty wheel with the shape of a drum," and "the leveled triangle-shaped subdivision of a pediment."

What is the correct spelling of this word that's associated with "entertainment"?

Today, a "ridotto" describes "a public masquerade gathering of the 18th century that consisted of music and dance." Definitions from 1912 include "dance and music community entertainment that originated in Italy" and "public gathering."

This complex term is the name for a "moth." What is the correct spelling?

"Yponomeutidae" is considered a new Latin term that means "species of tineoid moths." A 1912 definition of "yponomeutidae" is "ermine moths."

This word is "golden." What's the right spelling?

"Auriferous" first appeared in 1727 to mean "that which contains gold." Definitions from 1912 include "possessing gold" and "yielding or bearing gold."

Can you choose the correct spelling of this "finicky" word?

"Pernickety" is a British term that means "fussy" or "overly-emphasizing trivial matters." Expressive 1912 definitions include "trim," "overly particular" and "overnice."

This word is an adjective that describes an attribute of a flower. Can you spot the right spelling?

"Zygomorphous" is a botany term that means "a flower that possesses just one symmetry plane; or one that is symmetrical bilaterally." A 1912 definition is "something which is formed as a yoke; pertaining specifically to subdivided flowers."

The modern definition of this word is "murmuring" or "whispering." What's the correct spelling?

"Murmuring," "rustling" and "whispering" are modern synonyms of "susurrus." In 1912, "susurrus" held the meaning, "a delicate whisper as that of a light breeze; the far-off sound of bees humming."

What is the correct spelling of the word associated with "deacon"?

In 1912, "diaconal" meant "relating to a deacon." Today's meaning of "diaconal" also attributes the term to the female form "deaconess."

"Timeworn" is a synonym for this word. What's the right spelling?

"Hackneyed" is an adjective that means "void of ingenuity." "Worn down" and "commonplace" are 1912 definitions of the term.

What's the right spelling for this term that means "residual"?

"Nubbin" means "remnant" or "small bit," as in "nub." It also means "that which is underdeveloped when equated with others of its type." In 1912, "nubbin" meant "little or flawed ear of maize."

What's the right spelling of the word that means "sleepwalking"?

"Somnambulism" has preserved its meaning since 1912; it means "the act or exercise of sleepwalking." The term is of French origin and first appeared in 1786 to mean "traveling in one's sleep, or hypnotized."

This word means "purse." What's the correct spelling?

In 1912, "portemonnaie" was written without the hyphen that is used in the word today. This French word means "a purse or little pocketbook."

What is the correct spelling of the term for "a reformatting of a literary work or musical opus"?

In 1912, "rifacimento" meant "the adaptation or remake of a book or play." The Italian word has preserved its meaning since then. The plural form is "rifacimenti."

Can you spot the correct spelling of this "chemical element"?

A 1912 definition of "xenon" was "the weightiest of the five newly discovered fundamental substances of a gas form in the atmosphere." Today's definition for "xenon" is "chemistry element with atomic number 54; a noble gas within its series; acquired through purification of liquid air."

This word means "possessing qualities as a viper." What is the correct spelling?

"Viperous" is an adjective synonymous with "cancerous" and "viperine," and means "having the characteristics of a viper." The 1912 definitions of this term are the same.

This term describes "a youthful condition." What's the correct spelling?

In 1912, "juvenescent" meant "turning young." Modern definitions of the term include "youthful" or "youthful change."

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes