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Quiz Bowl Lexicon

Using the Quiz Bowl Lexicon

The Lexicon has been divided into two categories: the Jargon List and the Slang List. Words in blue are particular to the Oklahoma Academic Team.

Jargon List

Accessibility: n. The difficulty of a question or a set of questions, reflecting the estimated (though at times calculated) percentage of times it went unanswered. For example, questions for a national tournament are less accessible than questions at a regional tournament.

ACF: acronym for Academic Competition Federation. Created in 1991 as the Academic Competition Foundation and reestablished in 1997 under its current name, it represented a grassroots improvement of quizbowl. It hosts three tournaments each year: ACF Fall, Regionals, and Nationals. ACF has also hosted ACF Winter, a tournament between Fall and Regionals, and sponsored the Early Autumn Collegiate Novice tournament. It is also packet-submission. Matches are untimed. The questions are very academically oriented with virtually no pop culture or sports. After heated exchanges between proponents of ACF and proponents of CBI in the 1990s, ACF has now solidified its position as the premier academic quizbowl format. This page, courtesy of the Quizbowl Wiki, has a detailed history of ACF.

Blitz: v. intr. To say everything you know about a subject after buzzing in too early to know exactly what the question is looking for. ACF accepts blitzes as correct if and only if nothing that you say is wrong and the right answer is in there somewhere. NAQT accepts set combinations of works as blitzes.

Bonus: n. (plural bonuses or boni). A series of related questions that follows a correctly answered tossup. In most college tournaments, the subject of the bonus does not correspond with that of the tossup except by chance. Only the team that correctly answered the tossup has the right to answer the bonus, and, in college, there are no rebounds for missed bonus questions. All bonuses are worth thirty points except in CBI (ranging from 20 to 30) and sometimes in TRASH (where 40-point bonuses are possible).

Buzz: n. 1. The act of buzzing in. 2. An event in which someone buzzed in, particularly one where a player buzzed in early and answered correctly, e.g., "You had a nice buzz on The Bald Soprano."

Buzz in: v. intr. To use your buzzer to signal your desire to answer a question. Syn.: ring in.

Buzzer: n. Device used to signal when one wants to respond. Its technical name is "signaling device," even though it's not a train.

Canon: n. The unspoken list of acceptable topics to be asked about during tournaments. What determines membership in the canon is mainly accessibility and occasionally significance. The canon tends to rein in question writers who are tempted by a "Stump the Chump" mentality, but it can also encourage writing questions about difficult material because canon material tends to repeat itself eventually. Nevertheless, the lack of an official canon has allowed writers to constantly expand the canon by introducing new topics into questions. Such canon expansion typically occurs at open tournaments, and experimental tournaments often feature questions on material outside the canon.

CBI: acronym for College Bowl Incorporated. This company originated collegiate quiz bowl, and it hosted two tournaments each year: the Regional Championship Tournament and the National Championship Tournament. In its eponymous format, matches consisted of two fast-paced seven-minute halves with shorter questions than NAQT or ACF. However, the succinct style and penchant for hosing led on occasion to infamously poor questions. Many teams were put off by the high cost of playing and the inferiority of the questions to ACF and NAQT questions to the point that CBI suspended operations in 2008.

College Bowl: n. 1. The game of quiz bowl at the collegiate level. 2. CBI.

Confer: v. intr. To discuss possible answers with your teammates during a question. Conferring during a tossup is strictly punished, but it is essential during bonuses.

CUT-style: adj. A tournament format developed at Carleton College that determines the number of players on a team by their experience in collegiate quiz bowl. The NAQT Web site has a page describing eligibility and team configurations at a CUT-style tournament. Recognizing that its Invitational Series questions are suited for novice collegiate teams instead of experienced teams, NAQT encourages teams to determine eligibility at tournaments using those questions by using this format.

Designate: v. tr. Action by a captain during a bonus to allow a teammate to answer in their place. Used most often when the captain doesn't want to risk mispronouncing the answer.

Distribution: n. The number of tossups and bonuses allotted to each academic subject within a given packet. Distribution is determined by the format itself or, in the case of independent tournaments, the writers thereof. See also subdistribution.

Division: n. A grouping of teams based on experience. Official ACF and NAQT events divide participants into Division I and Division II. Division II consists of first-year players along with players who have never played in a national tournament regardless of experience and who do not have a bachelor's degree or higher. Division I consists of everyone else. The division was originated by NAQT in order to encourage new teams and new players to play. In NAQT, Division I and Division II teams play in separate tournaments on different question sets at the same tournament site. In ACF, teams in both divisions play against one another on the same questions, and champions in each division are crowned at the end of the tournament. Some invitational tournaments also use divisions.

D-Value: n. The statistic that NAQT uses to determine the teams that receive the initial set of at-large bids to the NAQT Intercollegiate Championship Tournament. The D-value replaced the S-value starting in the 2009-2010 competition year. Unlike its predecessor, the formula for calculating the D-Value is public information.

Experimental: adj. Type of tournament that features questions on topics outside the canon.

FAQTP: abbr. For a quick ten points. Used in tossups (primarily in CBI). A question with "FAQTP" is a speed check question and has no pyramidal structure. Such questions are no longer used in collegiate quizbowl.

15-10-5: n. Bonus format similar to the 30-20-10. Bonuses with a 15-10-5 structure have two answers, and their corresponding questions each have three clues. This type of question is discouraged in timed formats because it eats a lot of time. As of 2006, such bonuses are deprecated.

Format: n. 1. A set of rules guiding quiz bowl play. There are several formats ranging from the ubiquitous tossup/bonus format used in all collegiate play to the downright bizarre Panasonic format. 2. A variation of the tossup/bonus format used by a given quiz bowl organization or tournament. The major national collegiate formats are ACF, NAQT, and TRASH. Some tournaments, such as Iowa's This Tournament Goes to Eleven, use their own formats. Most invitationals use a modified version of a format.

FFPE: abbr. For five points each. Used in bonuses.

FTP: abbr. For ten points. Used in tossups and bonuses.

FTPE: abbr. For ten points each. Used in bonuses.

FTSNOP: abbr. For the stated number of points. Used in bonuses.

40-30-20-10: n. A 30-20-10 bonus whose first clue is sarcastically impossible. Despite this, teams will on occasion get the forty point clue. Here is an example: At Missouri S&T (formerly Rolla), we were once asked the following bonus: "Name the sport, 40-30-20-10. For forty, it's played in several countries." We pulled "jai alai" out of thin air, guessed it, and got all forty points. Such a bonus rarely happens outside pop culture tournaments (TRASH or otherwise).

Guerrilla: adj. Type of tournament in which the questions have had little or no editing prior to being used. Teams may even contribute packets on the day of the tournament.

Hybrid: adj. Tournament that combines academic and pop culture questions.

Interrupt: n. Synonym of neg.

Invitational: adj. Tournament operating outside the official sets of ACF and NAQT tournaments. Invitational tournaments formerly required invitations to compete. In modern practice, invitations are not issued. This term is not used to refer to pop culture tournaments that operate outside TRASH.

Judge, the: n. Buzzer system used by OU (until November 2005) and many other teams because it's cheap, reliable, easily fixed, and nearly indestructible in the hands of high schoolers. However, because it's a briefcase full of lights, switches, and wires, we make freshmen endure the hassle of taking it through airport security.

Junior Bird: n. Synonym of novice.

Lame: v. tr. To refuse to answer a bonus because it's ridiculously impossible for your team to answer. The team is then awarded the next bonus, and the original bonus is consigned to obscurity. (e.g., Moderator: "For ten points each, name these Armenian skiing champions." You: "Lame!") Usually seen only in TRASH, which allows a team one lame per match. Some tournaments allow the opposing team to claim the lamed bonus. See punt.

List Bonus: n. A bonus that requires as its answer a list, usually six items for five points each, or a combination of fewer items plus a bonus for getting them all correct. With the reforms in quiz bowl in 2006, list bonuses were strongly disapproved, and they have largely been eliminated from current collegiate tournaments.

Masters Tournament: n. Synonym of open.

mACF: abbr. Modified ACF format. Generally denotes an invitational that employs packet submission. See modified and ACF.

Minus 5: n. Synonym of neg.

Mirror: n. A tournament that is held in a certain region but that uses the questions from an established tournament in another region. For the right to do so, the mirror host tends to give a portion of its earnings or contribute questions to the host of the original tournament.

mNAQT: abbr. Modified NAQT format. Usually denotes an invitational that uses questions bought from NAQT without being an official NAQT tournament. Such a tournament is often untimed. See modified and NAQT.

Modified: adj. A tournament format that follows most, but not all, rules of that format. Modified NAQT tournaments use NAQT questions and are often untimed, as opposed to official NAQT tournaments, which are timed. Otherwise, modified NAQT tournaments adhere to the NAQT rules. Modified ACF tournaments are tournaments that use questions written in the style of official ACF tournaments and use the ACF rules but are not affiliated with ACF. Modified ACF tournaments may have slightly different distributions from the official ACF distribution. This term does not indicate any particular level of difficulty because it encompasses many tournaments with varying degrees of difficulty.

Moderator: n. The person who reads the questions in a round. The moderator usually also serves as judge, timer, and scorekeeper because few tournaments have enough staff members to fill all these positions.

NAQT: acronym for National Academic Quiz Tournaments. This company, established in 1996, runs a program on the college circuit by hosting two tournaments each year: the Sectional Championship Tournament and the Intercollegiate Championship Tournament. It also franchises high school tournaments (such as those run by the Oklahoma Quiz Bowl Alliance) through its Invitational Series and middle school tournaments with the Middle School Series. It is responsible for several innovations, such as the power tossup and a national tournament for new players through its Division II. Its format features timed matches with ten-minute halves. Questions are longer than in CBI but shorter than in ACF. Question sets in NAQT are moderately accessible and contain moderate amounts of pop culture and current events. The selection process for its national tournament used to be the most secretive of the four formats and understandably caused a fair amount of controversy. (See S-Value.) As of 2006, the quiz bowl circuit discourages the use of NAQT Invitational Series questions at collegiate tournaments in favor of modified ACF questions. NAQT itself also recognizes that Invitational Series questions are suited primarily for Junior Bird, Division II, or CUT-style tournaments. Beginning in 2010, NAQT replaced the S-Value with the D-Value and made the selection process for its national tournaments public.

Neg: 1. n. A five-point deduction for an incorrect response given by a player who has interrupted the question. 2. v. tr. To earn a neg.

Neg 5: n. Synonym of neg.

Novice: 1. adj. Tournament held exclusively for first-year (and occasionally second-year) players. Novice tournaments sometimes align their eligibility policies to that of NAQT's Division II. See division. 2. Any team eligible to play in such a tournament. 3. n. Any player eligible for such a team. Syn.: Junior Bird.

On: prep. Catch-all preposition used when referring to events that take place during questions, e.g., "I can't believe I sat on that question," "We lost on Moby Dick?" or "He answered 'Louis XIII' on tossup 13."

Open: adj. A tournament in which anyone may participate regardless of school affiliation or classification. All TRASH tournaments are open, and most other trash tournaments are as well. However, very few academic tournaments are open (e.g., the Chicago Open). No official ACF or NAQT tournaments are open.

Packet: n. A set of questions sufficient to complete a match. Usually comprises 20 tossups and 20 bonuses and includes a few spare questions in case something goes wrong.

Packet-submission: adj. Type of tournament in which each team brings a complete packet of questions, often in return for a discount from its entry fee. ACF requires packet submission from college teams with at least one member who played collegiate quiz bowl on or before September 1 one year prior to the start of the current competition year (e.g., for 2011-2012, the cutoff date is September 1, 2010). Most modified tournaments require packet submission as well. NAQT and TRASH do not require any packet submission.

Power: 1. n. A tossup answered before a certain point marked within the question that earns the respondent's team 15 points instead of 10. All NAQT tournaments and a few modified and trash tournaments have powers. 2. v. tr. or intr. To interrupt the reading of a tossup and answer correctly before the power mark. 3. n. The act or instance of having powered. 4. adj. Denotes tossups that can be powered.

Punt: v. tr. To force the opposing team to answer a bonus that your team has earned the right to answer but has deemed too difficult. The other team then answers the bonus, and your team receives the amount of points that the other team does not get. Usually seen only in pop culture tournaments, which allow each team one punt per game. See lame.

Pyramidal Structure: n. The characteristic of most collegiate-level questions' exhibiting a series of clues, each less obscure than the one before, until the last clue, which is often a giveaway clue. Pyramidal questions reward real knowledge of a subject at the expense of list memorizers.

qb: abbr. Quiz bowl.

qb-er: n. Synonym for quiz bowler.

Quiz bowler: n. Someone who plays or is associated with quiz bowl.

Rebound: n. The offering to a team of the parts of a bonus missed by the other team, which had earned that bonus. No college format allows this, but many high school formats do.

Recognition: n. The acknowledgment of a player's buzzing in. In CBI, the timekeeper has the responsibility to do this by saying your school's name and your own. The other college formats content themselves with the moderator's looking up and pointing. Only CBI requires a player to wait to be recognized before answering.

Ring in: v. intr. Synonym for buzz in.

Scorekeeper: n. The person who keeps the official score in a match. The moderator often also serves as scorekeeper because few tournaments have enough staff members to supply both moderators and scorekeepers for every match.

Speed check: adj. A question that contains only one or two clues and has no pyramidal structure. This type of question is no longer used in collegiate quizbowl.

Stall: 1. n. Excessive hesitation after buzzing in and being recognized. Each moderator has his or her own idea of how long is too long, but a stall is usually around five seconds. A stall is considered an incorrect answer. 2. v. intr. To commit a stall.

Subdistribution: n. The number of tossups and bonuses allotted to each discipline of an academic subject within a given packet. For example, in the science distribution, subdistributions include questions on physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, earth science, mathematics, and computer science.

S-Value: n. The statistic that NAQT formerly used to determine the teams that receive the initial set of at-large bids to the NAQT Intercollegiate Championship Tournament. The original formula for calculating the S-Value was kept secret. In 2009, NAQT extended an invitation to the quiz bowl community to develop a new formula for the S-Value that can be made public, and in 2010, the D-Value officially replaced the S-Value.

10-5: n. Type of bonus that works like a 30-20-10. Bonuses using the 10-5 structure usually have three answers, and each corresponding question has two clues. As of 2006, this type of bonus is disapproved.

Thirty: v. tr. To score thirty points on a bonus. See bagel.

30-20-10(-5)(-1): n. Type of bonus in which there is only one answer and clues of decreasing difficulty are asked in succession until a correct answer is offered. The team gets one response per clue. If the team answers correctly after the first clue, it receives 30 points, and so on. As of 2006, this type of bonus has been obsolesced in favor of writing a potential 30-20-10(-5)(-1) bonus as a tossup.

Tossup: n. A question open to both teams. However, each player plays individually because no conferring is allowed. Tossups are worth ten points except for a power tossup in NAQT, which is worth 15 points. No penalty is incurred for an incorrect response unless the player interrupts the reading of the question (see neg). To give an example of how the United States and United Kingdom are divided by a common language, tossups in the UK are called "starters." Click here and look up "toss-up" to find out why because we won't tell you.

Tossup/bonus: n. A format in which tossups are asked to both teams until a player answers one correctly. That player's team is then awarded a bonus open to only that team.

TRASH: acronym for Testing Recall about Strange Happenings. This format deals exclusively with popular culture and current events, topics originally derided as "trash." It hosts two tournaments each year: TRASH Regionals and TRASHionals. Its popularity indicates the significance that pop culture has with quiz bowlers. The ludic spirit of TRASH has led to several interesting innovations such as the lame, the forty-point bonus, and the idea of offering the most horrific prizes that you ever did see. The questions, though, can be inconsistent in their accessibility, and many players spend their time taking delight in "out-geeking" one another.

Trash: adj. A popular culture tournament that is not an official TRASH tournament. The use of "trash" is analogous to using "modified" for academic tournaments that are not official ACF or NAQT tournaments.

Slang List

Bagel: v. tr. To score zero points on a bonus. See thirty.

Bastard Team: n. A team consisting of players from different schools. Usually only allowed in TRASH or open tournaments.

Buzzer Race: n. A mad rush to buzz in by most or all players on a tossup. Occurs when a question stumps everyone until the last few words that give the answer away.

Buzzer Rock: n. (derisive) A person who never buzzes in on tossups.

Dead white male: adj. Denotes a packet whose questions that have people for answers ask solely about dead white males or things that they did. Even though these folks have been behind most of the known historical events and discoveries, there is more to the world than Europe, white America, and the past. The packets that OU used to send to ACF Nationals tended not to be used because of their lack of these questions.

Defensive Bonus: n. A bonus on which one team earns zero points but on which the opposing team would have earned thirty points had the opposing team received it.

Dinosaur: n. A person who has played quiz bowl for an extraordinarily long time. Some dinosaurs have been playing since before today's freshmen were born.

Gentlemen's 10: n. A ten-point question that is the only question answered in a particular bonus. The Gentlemen's 10 tends to be the most well-known part of the subject of the bonus.

Hose: n. A question that tricks players by seeming to point towards one answer but suddenly switching to another. Although sometimes written deliberately, they are usually the product of bad question writing.

Inspired Answer: n. An answer (almost always an interrupt) that seems correct to the respondent when he or she buzzes in but turns out to be hilariously wrong.

Memory Bowl: interj. Used when a question is asked about something that has already been asked about within the same tournament.

Neg Master: n. The player that has the most negs at a particular tournament. A neg master usually receives a ridiculous, embarrassing prize.

Neg monkey: n. Invisible animal that clutches onto the back of a player who negs repeatedly, in spectacular fashion, or both during a practice round, a match, or a tournament.

Rule No. 4: n. Guideline stating that if your team knows only one answer that could apply to a bonus (e.g., on Romanian sculptors, the answer would be Brâncuşi), and you have answered with it on the first two parts of the bonus, then you should say it again on the third part because it will likely score you 10 points.

Sit (on): v. intr. To know the answer to a tossup with almost absolute certainty but not enough to buzz in. Sitting on tossups tends to lead to great remorse if the other team gets it right with the answer one wanted to say.

Stump the Chump: adj. Denotes a question whose answer is insultingly obscure or a tournament full of such questions. This phenomenon strikes ACF and other invitational question writers every now and then. It arises when the limitations of the canon mix with egotistical question writers' trying to be cleverer than one another.

Vulture: v. intr. To buzz in during a tossup when the opposing team had negged and the rest of the friendly team was waiting for the giveaway clue at the end of the question.

The Significance of 2006

Some entries have a definition that contains the phrase "as of 2006." In 2006, the Quizbowl Resource Center replaced the Yahoo! quizbowl group as the primary place where quizbowl participants announce tournaments and discuss various aspects of the game. Discussions at the Quizbowl Resource Center resulted in changes to the game that began appearing in tournaments in the 2006-2007 academic year. Such changes included not using NAQT Invitational Series at collegiate tournaments and not writing bonuses in any form other than three questions worth ten points each.