How to write fun trivia questions for adults (50 Bonus Questions included)
Anyone can write a Trivia question. “Who was the first president of the United States of America?” Boom, done.
The real challenge is writing a great question. That’s where our team of expert writers comes in. Here is their checklist for writing the best Trivia questions for adults.
If you’re looking a complete list of questions skip to the end where we’ve included a set of 50 trivia questions that cover a variety of themes.
Accuracy is the most important element of any Trivia question. No amount of creativity and uniqueness can make up for an incorrect answer. And it’s tough to win back the crowd after an error in your show.
With that in mind, fact-checking is an essential part of creating great Trivia. Our writing team fact-checks each question against three legitimate sources. And no, Wikipedia does not count as a source.
But “accurate” means more than just factually correct. It also must be free of ambiguity. Make sure to include any words or phrases needed for clarity.
For example, “What hockey team now has the longest active consecutive NHL playoff streak?” The word active is essential to point the teams to the correct answer- the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Without the word “active,” teams could interpret it as asking for the longest playoff streak of all time, which belongs to the Boston Bruins.
When writing your show, focus on clarity. Give players all of the necessary information to come up with the right answer.
One of the things that makes Trivia fun is its randomness. Putting obscure facts and random knowledge to use adds to the excitement of the game.
But try to stick to relevant topics. If a question dives too deep into a niche category, teams will struggle to come up with the answer. And if it happens often, they might give up altogether.
We’ll use this example, “In the season 8 episode of The Office, “Get the Girl,” what museum does Nellie say is the most interesting thing in Scranton?” This would work for a The Office theme show, because super-fans would know the answer is “Harry Houdini.” But in a general knowledge Trivia show, this detail is too obscure to ask of your audience.
The best Trivia Nights create a social experience for the players. Sticking to relevant topics encourages teams to engage in discussion over their answers.
Our writers include small hints, or context clues, to point teams to the correct answer.
For example, “Years after achieving success with his siblings, who became the first entertainer to have officially ratified sales of more than 100 million albums outside the USA in 2006?” The sibling detail isn’t related to the main part of the question. But it helps lead teams toward the correct response- Michael Jackson.
Context clues are another way to encourage teams to discuss and engage. The above example prompts teams to brainstorm celebrities with famous siblings.
In addition to providing a hint, this also makes the Trivia Night experience more fun for the players.
Aim for questions that are around the length of the above example. Any longer and they can get confusing. Any shorter and they become less likely to trigger a discussion.
If your question is only a few words long, find a way to add more clues to make it more entertaining. If it’s several sentences long, determine which parts can be eliminated to create a more streamlined version.
For example, “Name the actor or actress who is in all of the following movies: Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and Armageddon.” Some members of the team might have only seen one or two of the movies. But the hope is that their combined knowledge will lead them to the answer- Steve Buscemi.
In other words, make sure your show encourages dialogue. The hope is that teams can make educated guesses on answers they don’t know. It’s always better to hear, “I should have known that!” rather than silence after reading an answer.
Writing new Trivia questions every week takes a lot of inspiration. Luckily, there are resources available online to spark creativity.
One such site is J! Archive. This is a fan-created page that tracks previous Jeopardy! questions. The Jeopardy! format doesn’t fit for most Trivia shows. But this is a good way to find subject ideas for your writing your own questions.
Another potential source of inspiration is Reddit. Specifically, the “Today I Learned” page. It’s especially important to fact check any information you find here, since it is user created content. In other words, this doesn’t count as a source and you should never directly copy from here into your show. But this is a good place for finding ideas for unique questions that set your Trivia Nights apart.
And finally, you can draw inspiration directly from the Last Call Trivia team! Be sure to follow us on Facebook. We post daily Trivia questions that cover a wide variety of categories. Plus, every Wednesday at noon EST, we live stream our Trivia Bites segment. This gives our audience the chance to chime in with their answers.
Examples of Great Questions
Now that we’ve covered the basics of writing a great question, let’s look at a few examples.
Q: Bumper stickers with the symbols “Au H20” were sold to raise support for what Arizona politician, the conservative opponent of President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 election? A: Barry Goldwater
This takes what could be a basic question and makes it interesting. Teams that know Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 opponent can answer right away. But this gives other teams a chance to compete as well. The bumper sticker is a nod to the symbols of the chemical elements that make up “gold” and “water”. So, teams can use this information to work out the correct answer.
Q: Washington is the only U.S. state that has a flag that is primarily what color? A: Green
This question encourages discussion through process of elimination. Even if players don’t know the Washington state flag, they work together to make a guess. New Mexico’s flag is primarily yellow, so that color can be eliminated. The flag of Oregon (and many other states) is primarily blue, so that’s out as well. Teams can continue this process with any state flags they know to come up with an educated guess. This keeps teams engaged and active throughout the game.
Q: In the first season of Gilligan’s Island, the Professor successfully builds a battery charger out of what object? A: Coconut
Audiences love nostalgic questions. Gilligan’s Island has been enjoyed by multiple generations and is still being rerun to this day. Pulling from popular shows such as this increases the engagement of the audience. And again, even if a team has never seen the show, they can still guess. In comparison, if the question asked teams to name a specific character, it would be much more difficult for people who haven’t seen Gilligan’s Island.
Writing Trivia questions for adults is tough. There are a lot of elements that go into creating a great show. Be sure to consider the above tips when writing your own show. Or better yet, subscribe to Flex. Flex includes access to tens of thousands of expertly written and audience tested questions.
For those of you looking for a complete set of trivia questions you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re looking to host a trivia night in a bar or you need questions for a corporate event we’ve got you covered. We’ve included 50 bonus sample questions to get you started in hosting your own trivia night.
1. The name for the smell that lingers after it rains was coined what in 1964 by two Australian scientists? Petrichor 2. The name PEZ, for PEZ candy, comes from the German word for what? Peppermint 3. Before being sold as a children’s toy, Play-Doh was originally sold as what? Wallpaper cleaner 4. Before modern rap battles came to be, there was a medieval English and Scottish practice of exchanging witty, insulting verses called what? Flyting 5. Where is Glenfiddich made? Scotland (whiskey) 6. Famous rock band, AC/DC got their name from the initials “AC/DC” on the back of what object? Sewing machine 7. The first typewriter was initially called what? Literary Piano 8. Elvis Presley’s last words were, “I’m going to the ______ to read.” Bathroom 9. The world’s first public modern bank began in what country? Italy 10. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Which word in the English language has the most definitions, coming in at 430? Set 11. The Celtic custom of carving which vegetable and lighting them with embers to ward off evil spirits is the origin of modern pumpkin carving? Turnip 12. How many Galleons was the prize amount for winning the Triwizard Tournament? 1,000 13. What was the first capital of the United States after the Constitution was ratified? New York City 14. What is the oldest department store in the United States? Brooks Brothers 15. In reference to his revolutionary product, who is known for saying, “You can have any color as long as it’s black.”? Henry Ford 16. Who was the first billionaire in America? John D. Rockefeller 17. The Great Fire of London (1666) started inside what? A bakery 18. Robot comes from the Czech word robota, meaning what? Forced labor (or drudgery) 19. What is the original publishing company of the Harry Potter series? Bloomsbury 20. What is considered the collective noun for a group of unicorns? A blessing 21. What is Hamlet’s father’s name? Hamlet 22. Who was the oldest person to sign the Declaration of Independence? 23. Benjamin Franklin 24. Where did the first untethered, manned hot air balloon take flight? Paris, France 25. What real-life DIY guru was Tim Taylor’s chief rival on Home Improvement? Bob Vila 26. What musical instrument does Sherlock Holmes play for relaxation? Violin 27. The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree in London is an annual gift to the people of Britain from which country? Norway 28. More than just a famous wizard, “dumbledore” is actually an 18th century nickname for what? A bumblebee 29. What was the first animated film nominated for Best Picture? Beauty and the Beast (1991) 30.What was the first living human organ to be successfully transplanted? Kidney 31. Also able to simultaneously write in Latin with one hand and Greek with the other, who was the first left-handed president of the United States? James Garfield 32. According to most sources, who was the first person ever to appear on stage as an actor playing a character in a play? Thespis of Icaria 33. Abraham Lincoln kept his important documents inside what? His Hat 34. In ancient Greece, throwing an apple at someone was done to signify one’s what (for another person)? Love 35. Who is the only president to have had a PhD degree? Woodrow Wilson 36. The white stain on the surface of the famous painting “The Scream” is what? Candle wax 37. According to his wife Mary, Abraham Lincoln’s hobby was what? Cats 38. “Bumpsy” is 17th century slang for what? Drunk 39. Who popularized the tradition of wearing a white dress at one’s wedding? Queen Victoria 40. What does a sphygmomanometer measure? Blood pressure 41. What language does the term “chai”originate from? Mandarin (Chinese) 42. What was the first commercial product (UPC) to use a barcode? A pack of Juicy Fruit gum 43. A raw ingredient of aspirin originally came from boiling the bark of what tree? Willow 44. Who was the first president to live in the White House? John Adams 45. 20% of office coffee mugs contain what type of bodily bacteria? Fecal 46. Boanthropy is a psychological disorder where people think they are what? Cows 47. Who invented the game of ping pong? The British 48. What is the highest scoring word in Scrabble, worth 1,778 points? Oxyphenbutazone 49. Who is given credit for suggesting "Hello" as a the best term to use when answering the telephone? Thomas Edison 50. As a response to an editor claiming he couldn’t do it, Dr. Seuss used only 50 unique/different words to write what book? Green Eggs and Ham