There's a reason we really love to solve puzzles and riddles. Our brains are wired to fill in the blanks, and when we see a question we can't figure out, it literally drives us nuts. The riddle can bounce around our head like a nickel in a coffee can, bothering us to no end, giving us no rest like that tune we just can't get out of our head.
A good riddle is great at certain kinds of parties. A friend of ours gifted another friend a puzzle box where the object of the game was to simply find a way to open the box. Yet it seemed impossible; it didn't look like there were any moving parts and the box appeared like a solid block. So before anyone knew it, everybody at the party wanted an opportunity to try and get the box open. It was like all the Avengers taking turns trying to lift Thor's hammer!
That's the power of a good riddle. You just can't rest until it's solved. We've collected a solid sample of 25 classic riddles that are legitimate head-scratchers, some of which you may have grown up with. As much as we love these kinds of puzzles, a few of them here are new to us. Not everyone has what it takes to solve them. But we hope that everyone who tries has a blast!
It's tempting to immediately look up the answer, but hey—that's cheating!
1Every Dawn Begins With Me
Sometimes the answer to a puzzle requires looking for clues in a place you wouldn't expect. See if you can crack the following riddle with that in mind. Every dawn begins with me At dusk I'll be the first you see And daybreak wouldn't come without What midday centers all about Daisies grow from me I'm told And when I come I end all cold But in the sun I won't be found Yet still each day I'll be around What am I?
2Mr. & Mrs. Mustard
If you have a big family, and you can do basic arithmetic, then certain riddles should be a complete snap to solve. Yet the following riddle stumps more than 90% of the population that tries to answer it. Is it really that difficult to come up with the right solution? See if you can solve this classic tough one. Mr. and Mrs. Mustard have six daughters and each daughter has one brother. How many people are in the Mustard family?
Do you have a good sense of direction and a strong understanding of the laws of nature? You do? Great. Then this answer should be simple. Consider the following riddle, but don't overthink it. If you have every grown up on a farm, then the answer should be obvious to you. But no firsthand experience with chickens is necessary. A rooster lays an egg at the very top of a slanted roof. Which side is the egg going to roll off on?
4A Dangerous Wife?
Not everything is as it first appears to be. To answer this riddle, you must think about the meaning of words. Does everything really mean what you think it means? Think very flexibly before you try to answer the following tough riddle. A woman shoots her husband. Then she holds him under water for over 5 minutes. Finally, she hangs him. But 5 minutes later they both go out together and enjoy a wonderful dinner together. How can this be?
A little girl lives on the 26th floor of a building. She takes the elevator down to the lobby and goes to school each day. When school is over she goes to the 20th floor on the elevator and walks up 6 flights of stairs to her room. But if she is riding with somebody else on the elevator, she goes all the way to the 26th floor. Why does she take the stairs for the last 6 floors when she is alone?
Thinking outside the box, or in this case, the boat, is the only way you can solve this riddle. No experience with fishing is necessary to solve it. But if you think about the obvious answer here, it will probably come to you easier. There are 2 fathers and 2 sons going on a fishing trip in a boat out on the river. Every person catches one fish. However, in total, there were only 3 fish. How is that so?
7The Hanging Tongue
We guarantee that everyone has had experience with this at least once, even if you've never lived out in the country. To answer the following riddle, think about all aspects of what this thing could possibly be, and follow your instincts to find the obvious answer. I run over fields and woods all day. While I'm under the bed at night, I am not alone. I sit with a long tongue hanging out, waiting for a bone. What am I?
8A Group of Three
Riddles concerning common situations, people, or objects are often tough to solve because the answer is often right in front of us. Try to think symbolically and imagine how things work together. This is another classic riddle that's tougher to solve than most. I give you a group of three. One is sitting down, and will never get up. The second eats as much as is given to him, yet is always hungry. The third goes away and never returns.
This one is another classic most famously quoted in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit." In a famous passage, Bilbo Baggins and Golum get in a riddle war in a cave, with Bilbo's life at stake on one hand, and Golum's ring on the other. The two war at riddles until one of them gets it wrong. This was one of the riddles early on that Bilbo actually solved. A box without hinges, key or lid, Yet golden treasure inside is hid. What am I?
10Cracked, Made, Told
Riddles that use figures of speech are often tricky because in the English language these figures of speech can have more than one meaning. Often the only way to solve these riddles is to mull over the different meanings in your mind and try on different answers to see if they fit. Answers are usually simpler than you might expect. So take your time with this one—we know you can figure it out. I can be cracked, made, told, and played. What Am I?
11Faster Than Any Man Alive
Riddles often contain misdirection to box you into a certain way of thinking. As a hint, we can tell you more than one kind of thing has an eye, both animate and inanimate. Remember to open up your thinking to objects and forces of nature in addition to any sort of odd animal that you may be considering in your head. I have an eye but cannot see. I'm faster than any man alive and have no limbs. What am I?
12The Smartest Primate
Choosing between animals in a riddle is often tricky. Remember to consider what kind of animal they are and their individual strengths and weaknesses. Then the answer will be clear. You walk into a room where there are three animals held in their respective cages: 1) A lion who is eating the flesh of a goat. 2) An orangutan who is playing with blocks. 3) A donkey who is sitting idle. Who is the most intelligent primate in the room ?
13The Frog In The Well
This one's a simple math riddle. Just think logically. One day, while a frog was out hopping along, he fell to the bottom of the well and became stuck. The well is 30 feet deep. During the day, the frog would jump five feet up the well's walls. But while at night when the frog would try to sleep, he would slip back four feet. How many days did it take for the frog to come out from the well?
14Still Holds Water
Riddles alluding to simple objects that one can find around the house often elude us because we take these kinds of objects for granted. We just have a hard time seeing solutions that are literally right in front of us. Think about this one literally—what is it that can do what this riddle says? Think about what its asking and you will be able to see it. I am full of holes but I can still hold water. What am I?
15The Man From St. Ives
We love it when classic riddles are featured in popular movies. This particular riddle is spoken by Jeremy Irons' character to Bruce Willis' character over the phone in his famous action movie. Under pressure, he almost got it wrong. Let's see how you do. On my way to St. Ives I saw a man with 7 wives. Each wife had 7 sacks. Each sack had 7 cats. Each cat had 7 kittens. Kitten, cats, sacks, wives. How many were going to St. Ives?
This is another one where you have to think a little creatively to solve the problem. If the riddle sounds strange, that's a clue that the set-up may be an unusual situation. Five men are walking. It starts to rain. Four of them pick up the pace. The fifth man makes no effort to escape the rain and stays dry. The other four, on the contrary, get wet anyway. The five arrive at their destination together. How could this be?
17The Mongolian Postal Service
The Mongolian postal service has a very strict rule about items being sent: their length must not exceed one meter. Longer items must be sent by private services which is more expensive, plus they often lose parcels and packages. Boris had to send his valuable possession — an ancient flute — through the postal service. Unfortunately, it was 1.4 meters long and could not be disassembled. It was one long hollow piece of ebony. Eventually, he sent it through the Mongolian postal service. What did he do?
18A Bright Idea
Our brains are designed to fill in patterns, so we often fill in the blanks on certain kinds of problems, which can lead us to the wrong answer because we didn't stop and consider what might be right under our nose. Consider the following riddle. You are all alone in a dark room with a match and a matchbox. Nearby you have 3 objects: a candle, an oil lamp and a log of firewood. Which thing do you light first?
19The Man in Black
A man is walking on a black road, wearing all black: A black cloak, hat, mask, shoes, gloves and pants. All the street lights are switched off and there is no moon in the sky. A black car with its headlights switched off approaches at a high speed and slams on the brakes to avoid hitting the man in the street. How on earth did the driver of the black car know of the man in the street to stop in time?
20The Orange Thief
Mrs. Anderson is a fourth-grade teacher in elementary school. One of her students took her orange. Mrs. Anderson has narrowed the student suspects down to James, Sarah, and David. Each of these students give these statements: James: I didn't do it. Sarah: I didn't do it. David: Sarah did it! Mrs. Anderson knows by their answers that only one of the kids is telling the truth. Which one of the kids is telling the truth and who took the orange?
21Visitors Don't Stay Long
Are you good at breaking down descriptions and coming up with an answer? If you're good at the game "20 Questions" or you are an analytical person, you might fare well at this next riddle. It's not as common, but it is a fairly old one. People come visit me but rarely stay long. I can be clean but am often very dirty. People usually reveal to me a part of them that they rarely show others. What am I?
22The Prison Break
Two convicts are locked in a prison cell. There is an unbarred window high up in the cell. No matter if they stand on the bed or one on top of the other they can't reach the window to escape. They then decide to tunnel out. However, they give up on the tunneling plan because it will take too long. Finally one of the convicts figures out how to escape from the cell. What is his plan? How does he do it?
23The War Story
"At the end of World War I, I was awarded for my bravery after saving a group of my men," the grandfather says. "You see, we were fighting in northern France and one of our enemies threw a grenade at us. I managed to pick it up and throw it away before it exploded. So right after the war ended, a General gave me a sword, engraved with the words 'Awarded for Bravery and Valor, A True Hero, World War I'." The grandson thinks about the story for a minute and then says "Grandpa, that story can't be true!" How did the grandson know?
This one is tricky, no matter how many times you have ever been to a bar. One hint we can give you is this: under what circumstances would you ever ask the bartender for a glass of water? Think about that, and good luck on this one! A man walks into a bar and asks for water. The bartender pulls out a weapon and points it at him. A few moments later, the man says thank you and leaves. Why?
25A Head Scratcher
Every once in a while, a joke is far too clever for its own good. For an extra challenge, we dare you to cover the multiple choice options before you answer. This is not an easy one, but we will give you this hint: look at the question carefully and see if they are referring to something else than just the words. Hope that's enough! What comes once in a minute, twice in a moment, but never in a thousand years?