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Published: Mar 30, 2018 5 min read
(Top, left to right) Rudolph Giuliani, Former Mayor of New York Outside Buckingham Palace after receiving an Honorary Knighthood from the Queen, Red Sea Urchin, Robin Williams as Ms. Doubtfire; (bottom, left to right) Bird's nest soup, The Rock in  Jumanji,  Renminbi.
(Top, left to right) Rudolph Giuliani, Former Mayor of New York Outside Buckingham Palace after receiving an Honorary Knighthood from the Queen, Red Sea Urchin, Robin Williams as Ms. Doubtfire; (bottom, left to right) Bird's nest soup, The Rock in "Jumanji," Renminbi.
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Before last fall, a "savage question" was simply one you didn't want to answer. Your mom asking at Thanksgiving when you're finally going to give her some grandkids? Savage. Your girlfriend inquiring about all those Instagram accounts you lowkey follow? Totally savage.

HQ Trivia changed that.

Savage questions are a hallmark of the wildly popular quiz app, and not just because host Scott Rogowsky seems to love them so much. The phrase is frequently used to describe an especially difficult round of trivia. HQ says there's no hard-and-fast rule for deciding what counts as a savage question, but the Washington Post found that they typically eliminate at least 70 percent of players.

Savage questions are tricky, devastating to us all, and almost always inspire gleeful shouting from Rogowsky.

But with so many savage questions at this point, can it be determined what is the most savage of all time?

HQ Insiders, a third-party group that collects data from each HQ game, maintains a savagery leadership board on its website. HQ Insiders founder Justin Melnick tells Money that his team likely thinks about savage questions differently from HQ itself does.

"When Scott says, 'This was the most savage question of all time,' he's referring to simply the number of players that have been eliminated," Melnick said. "It's not the most difficult question."

Melnick considers the most savage questions to be the ones that the smallest percentage of players answered correctly. He argues his method is more accurate because it takes HQ's rapidly growing audience into account. In December, for example, HQ games were maxing out at about 700,000 players; now they regularly exceed 1.5 million.

Who's right? Just like with savage questions, there's no easy answer. Each way of measuring savagery has its pros and cons and produces different results.

See for yourself.

HQ provided Money with some of its most savage questions ever (not necessarily the most savage, as a spokesperson clarified). Here are five of them:

The Asian delicacy known as bird's nest soup is made primarily from what?
This third question on March 4 became instantly infamous, because it eliminated 1,765,281 people. Only 265,339 users knew that the soup actually comes from birds' nests.

The phrase 'cul-de-sac' literally translates to what?
This Q3 on Feb. 25 knocked out a whopping 1,199,305 players. Just 447,290 people answered correctly with "bottom of the bag."

What is the official currency of China?
This fourth question on Feb. 15 knocked out 785,927 players. Just 71,796 people chose the money response: "Renminbi."

Which of these Robin Williams movies is based on a novel?
This seventh question on Feb. 24 expelled 107,767 players. Only 10,362 comedy fans correctly came up with Mrs. Doubtfire.

Which of these was NOT one of the canonical seven wonders of the ancient world?
This Q6 on March 26 dashed the hopes of 20,817 HQuties angling for prize money. But 6,315 people made it to the next round, having guessed "library."

HQ Insider also gave Money a look at what it considers to be the most savage questions in history. For comparison's sake, here are five:

Which famous math equation remains unsolved?
This 14th question on Feb. 4 only allowed 5.7 percent of players to the next round. The rest couldn't come up with "the Reimann hypothesis."

Which of these symbols appears on the dice in Milton Bradley's Jumanji board game?
Just 5.9 percent of people correctly answered this, Q8 from March 17. The right answer, as the Rock surely now knows, was "racquet."

Which of these men has been knighted by the Queen of England?
Question No. 10 on March 27 stumped a vast majority of participants. But 6.1 percent of the audience knew their politics trivia and correctly selected "Rudy Giuliani."

Before creating Hotmail, the two founders worked together at what company?
The 11th question on Feb. 16 advanced just 6.9 percent of players still in the game. Those people did their Jobs (get it?) and chose "Apple."

What was the first successfully cloned animal?
Yet another Q11, this December 23 question made losers of everyone who didn't select "sea urchin." Only 7.1 percent of HQuties answered correctly.