Tip of the Tongue: Web Extra

  by  |  June 11th, 2008  |  Published in All, Brain & Psychology, Weird Science

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ScienCentral went out on the streets of New York City to catch people having real tip-of-the-tongue experiences. Watch the video to see the results, or test yourself with some of the questions below.

[If you cannot see the You Tube video below, you can click here for a high quality mp4 video.]

Interviewees: Lea Swift-Edmond, Caroline Carlisle,
Jeanine Ryan, Chris Brescia, Richard Lowe, Blair Levin,
Daniel Pogoda, Carina Garland, and Nicole Pandolfo
Length: 1 min 44 sec
Produced by Jessica Tanenbaum
Edited by Jessica Tanenbaum, Sandy Chase, and Chris Bergendorff
Copyright © ScienCentral, Inc.

Tip of the Tongue Quiz

In our ScienCentral News video Tip of the Tongue Learning, we report on new psychology research from McMaster University. There, cognitive psychologist Karin Humphreys and her colleague Amy Beth Warriner used some tricky questions to test what happens to people when they get a word stuck on the tip of their tongue.

Test yourself with these questions from the experiment to find out if these words make you feel that maddening sensation–where you remember the answer, but you just can’t get it out. Scroll down for the answers.

One warning: Humphrey and Warriner tossed in some unanswerable questions to figure out if the volunteers in their experiment were having fake tip-of-the-tongue experiences, where you feel like an answer is stuck on the tip of your tongue, but in fact, there is no answer to the question. After you take the quiz, scroll down for the answers.

  1. What do you call a pen name or fictitious name that an author might use to conceal his or her identity?
  2. What do you call a vessel or carafe used for holding and serving wine, brandy, or the like?
  3. What is the name for the condition in which the body’s mucous production system ceases to function?
  4. What do you call a metal stretcher with wheeled legs, used for transporting patients?
  5. What is a latticed arrangement of wood strips used in the garden for climbing plants?
  6. What is the name of the Greek god of guilt?
  7. What do you call a maze of paths bordered by high hedges, as in a park or garden, for the amusement of those who search for a way out?
  8. What is the name of the spearlike object that is thrown during a track meet?
  9. What do you call the string on a teabag?
  10. What is the name of the insrument used for turning pancakes, eggs, etc.?
  11. What do you call a policy of segregation and discrimination on the grounds of race or color?
  12. What is the word for keeping eggs warm until they hatch?
  13. What is the name of the device which indicates tempo in music by means of a pendulum?
  14. What is the name of the automobile instrument that measures mileage?
  15. What do you call a court order compelling a witness to be present at a trial or hearing, under penalty of fine or imprisonment?
  16. What do you call a fleet of warships?
  17. What is the branch of zoology dealing with birds?
  18. What do you call a sandwich with only one piece of bread?
  19. What do you call a device for beheading a person by means of a heavy blade that is dropped between two posts serving as guides?
  20. What word means to formally renounce a throne?
  21. What do you call the knob on a watch that changes the minute and second hands?
  22. What do you call one who speaks with little or no lip movement so his/her voice appears to come from another source such as a wooden dummy?
  23. What do you call the flowing wire inside a light bulb?
  24. What do you call three periods (…) used to indicate an omission or a pause?
  25. What is the name of the shiny, usually black, volcanic glass formed from by the rapid cooling of lava? (hint: if you read ScienCentral’s web article about tip-of-the-tongue expert Karin Humphreys, you’ll know the answer to this question.)


1. pseudonym
2. decanter
3. word doesn’t exist
4. gurney
5. trellis

6. word doesn’t exist
7. labyrinth
8. javelin
9. word doesn’t exist
10. spatula

11. apartheid
12. incubate
13. metronome
14. odometer
15. subpeona

16. armada
17. ornithology
18. word doesn’t exist
19. guillotine
20. abdicate

21. word doesn’t exist
22. ventriloquist
23. filament
24. ellipsis
25. obsidian

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    June 20th, 2010 at 7:34 am (#)

    Great quiz. I have learnt some new words today thanks to you.

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