Trivia · Word of the week

Word of the week: quotidian

One of last month’s “Word of the Week” pieces, Cadillac, was prompted by a question on a Channel 4 quiz show that has been revived after an absence of many years. Originally broadcast in primetime as “The Million Pound Drop”, it now has a 4pm slot and is called “The 100k Drop”. Contestants play the game in pairs and if they answer 7 questions correctly they are guaranteed to win something, up to a maximum of £100,000.

The series is now into its sixth week and is on series record on our multi-channel box. If a couple makes it to the 7th question there is a straight choice between two answers. After the first 35 episodes of the current series the highest win for any pair has been £30,000. The contestants’ final question was about bones in the human body, and asked which is greater: the number of bones in a human hand and wrist, or the number of bones in a human foot and ankle. The answer is hand and wrist, and they guessed right.

Another couple, on 1 June, only made it as far as question 3 and guessed wrong on the meaning of the word “quotidian”. At this stage of the quiz there are four possible answers, and in this instance they were offered: once a day, once a week, once a month or once a year. The correct answer is “once a day” but they split their remaining money on the three wrong answers and left with nothing. Watching the show on replay I was shouting “once a day” at the TV, to no avail obviously, and wondered how I knew the right answer. “Quotidian” is not a word I have ever used. Nor is “hebdomadal”, which means once a week, and has been used in questions more than once on other quiz shows.

My certainty about the word “quotidian” comes from the French, and specifically the phrase “pain quotidien”, which translates as “daily bread”. I thought this through consciously when “Le Pain Quotidien”, a “bakery and communal table”, opened locally many years ago, on the site of the old Windmill pub. (It also gets a mention in this recent piece, an update about Dead Pubs of West London.) I was pretty sure that the bakery’s name comes from the French version of the Our Father, and have found the following translation for the line “Give us this day our daily bread”:

Donne-nous aujourd’hui notre pain quotidien.
(It’s here, with the prayer in French and English.)

There are plenty of Trivia pieces on this Blog containing mnemonics, including ways to memorize the 50 US States, the 15 countries of the former Soviet Union, or the names of every Shakespeare play. Some of these subjects have subsequently featured on the ITV quiz show “Tenable” and I wrote this piece last autumn suggesting that there were contestants who could have made money by using these Blog Posts.

By contrast, there hasn’t been anything so clear-cut that could prepare people for questions on “The 100k Drop”. The show is not based on lists, so any information that might be useful will be tucked away inside one of my mnemonics, or in some other piece. Last Friday (8 June), a couple won £2,500 by knowing the answer to their final question: “Which of these structures is more likely to hang from the roof of a cave?” The options: Stalactite / Stalagmite. I learnt this one around the age of 12 in a school Geography lesson, as noted in this piece from 2016 (Holiday notes: Kents Cavern). “Tites come down”, as one of the contestants said, choosing “Stalactite” as the right answer.

The couple who didn’t guess that “quotidian” means “once a day” might not have made it through to Question 7, with its chance of taking home some cash. Here are 14 questions from the current series of “The 100k Drop” where contestants did have the chance to win some money by knowing, or guessing, the correct answer. The answers, and the sums of money won on each question, if any, appear at the end of this piece.

Date Question Options
Tue 8 May Which of these slang terms represents the greater amount of money? Monkey / Pony
Thu 10 May Which of these European countries is further north? Slovakia / Slovenia
Mon 14 May What have there been more of? Wimbledon Men’s Single Finals / English FA Cup Finals
Wed 16 May Which of these is longer? England-Wales border / England-Scotland border
Thu 17 May Which of these is larger? Angel of the North’s wingspan (Gateshead) / Christ the Redeemer’s arm span (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Fri 18 May Which of these literary characters was created first? Bram Stoker’s Dracula / Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Mon 21 May Which of these is heavier? Oscar statuette / Bafta statuette
Tue 22 May Which of these singers was younger when she had her first UK #1? Lady Gaga / Madonna
Thu 24 May In Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of the Mona Lisa, which of the following is true? Her right hand is folded over her left hand / Her left hand is folded over her right hand
Mon 28 May Which of these planets has the larger diameter? Venus / Mars
Tue 29 May Which of these countries has the most land borders with other countries? China / Brazil
Wed 30 May Which of these former US Presidents appears on the $5 bill? Abraham Lincoln / Thomas Jefferson
Thu 31 May In 1958 Maria Teresa de Flippis was the first woman to compete in which of these sporting events? Formula 1 / The Grand National
Wed 6 Jun Which of these countries has more land borders with other countries? France / Switzerland

Answers and Outcomes

Date Correct Answer

Money won

Tue 8 May Monkey


Thu 10 May Slovakia


Mon 14 May English FA Cup Finals


Wed 16 May England-Wales border


Thu 17 May Angel of the North’s wingspan (Gateshead, UK)


Fri 18 May Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein


Mon 21 May Oscar statuette


Tue 22 May Lady Gaga


Thu 24 May Her right hand is folded over her left hand


Mon 28 May Venus


Tue 29 May China


Wed 30 May Abraham Lincoln


Thu 31 May Formula 1


Wed 6 Jun France





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