Only Geniuses Can Solve These Riddles!

EDUCATION

16 PLAYS

By: Isadora Teich

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Humans have been testing their mental mettle with challenging riddles for thousands of years. See if you have what it takes to beat tricky riddles with this HowStuffWorks quiz!

Which clock works best, the one that loses a minute a day, or the one that doesn't work at all?

A clock that does not work at all will still be right twice a day, making it the better clock. A clock that loses a minute a day will only be correct every 720 days.

Advertisement

What belongs to you, but is used by other people more than you?

Your name belongs to you but will be said by others when talking to you or about you far more often than you will use it yourself. This tricky riddle has a simple answer.

Advertisement

Voiceless it cries, wingless flutters, toothless bites, mouthless mutters. What is "it"?

This famous riddle is asked by Gollum of Bilbo Baggins in J.R.R Tolkien's "The Hobbit." The wind moves, makes noise and feels like it bites in the winter with no physical body parts.

Advertisement

Why is it a criminal offense for a man living in Chelsea to be buried in Manchester United?

If the man is "living" in Chelsea, he is still alive and should not be buried at all. To do so would be a crime.

Advertisement

What walks on four feet in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night?

This riddle is asked of Oedipus by the Sphinx in Sophocles' "Oedipus Rex." The answer is man, who walks on all fours as a baby, on two legs as an adult, and with a cane as they age.

Advertisement

There is a certain crime, that if it is attempted, is punishable, but if it is committed, is not punishable. What is the crime?

This riddle refers to that while suicide is illegal, it is impossible to punish those who successfully undertake it. While suicide has been decriminalized is some western countries, it is still considered a crime in many parts of the world.

Advertisement

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?

The speaker says that they are going to St. Ives. While they saw many others along the way, they did not say specifically that anyone other than themselves was going to St. Ives.

Advertisement

What came first, the egg or chicken?

This old highly debatable riddle is deceptively easy to answer. Other animals, like dinosaurs, laid eggs long before their were chickens.

Advertisement

What is the longest word in the dictionary?

Smiles is the longest word in the dictionary. This is because there is a "mile" between the beginning and ending "S."

Advertisement

A bus driver was heading down a street in Delhi. He went the wrong way on a one-way street. Then he went on the left side of the road past a cop car. Even so, he didn't break any traffic laws. Why not?

While this riddle does mention a bus driver, it does not specifically say that he was driving a bus at the time of breaking these traffic laws. As a pedestrian, he did not have to follow the rules of the road.

Advertisement

You are in a dark room with a candle, a wood stove and a gas lamp. You only have one match, so what thing do you light first?

You light the match first, because without it none of the other objects can be lit. The wording of this riddle often tricks people.

Advertisement

I can be cracked, I can be made. I can be told, I can be played. What am I?

This riddle is a funny one. It refers to the fact that you can crack, make, tell and play a joke.

Advertisement

A boy and his father are in a traffic accident and the father dies. The boy is rushed to a hospital in bad condition, but the attending surgeon at the hospital sees the boy and says "I cannot operate. This boy is my son." %0D%0DWhat explains the situation?

In this classic riddle, the attending surgeon at the hospital is the boy's mother, making her unable to operate on him. It is deceptively simple.

Advertisement

This is a thing that is devoured by all things; flowers, trees, beasts, birds; bites steel, gnaws iron; grinds hard stone to meal; beats mountain down, ruins town and slays king. What is it?

This riddle comes from "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien. It refers to the fact that all things end in time.

Advertisement

There are 30 white horses on a red hill: first they champ, then they stamp, then they stand still. What are they?

J.R.R. Tolkien worked this Old Norse riddle into his writings. The 30 white horses refer to teeth and the red hill refers to the tongue.

Advertisement

What is black when you buy it, red when you use it and gray when you throw it away?

The answer to this riddle is charcoal. Charcoal is black at first, burns red, and turns to gray ash after it has been used.

Advertisement

I'm as small as an ant, as big as a whale. I'll approach like a breeze but can come like a gale. By some, I get hit, but all have shown fear. I'll dance to the music, though I can't hear. Of names I have many, of names I have one. I'm as slow as a snail, but from me, you can't run. What am I?

This riddle refers to the varied movements and sizes of shadows, which become distorted by light. All things have a shadow.

Advertisement

They have not flesh, nor feathers, nor scales, nor bone. Yet they have fingers and thumbs of their own. What are they?

This riddle refers to gloves. Despite having no physical living parts, they do have fingers and thumbs of their own.

Advertisement

I am light as a feather, yet no man can hold me for long. What am I?

Breaths are as light as air, yet no one can hold them for too long without serious consequences. This is what is referred to by this English-language riddle.

Advertisement

I am not alive, but I grow; I don't have lungs, but I need air; I don't have a mouth, but water kills me. What am I?

Fire is not alive, but it grows. It needs air to grow and is drowned by water, despite not having a mouth.

Advertisement

It speaks with a hard tongue, it cannot breathe, for it has no lung. What is it?

The answer to this riddle is "a bell." The hard tongue refers to the bell's clapper, which causes it to ring when it moves.

Advertisement

What relationship would your father's sister's sister-in-law have to you?

This riddle keeps it all in the family. If your father has a sister, her sister-in-law would be your mother.

Advertisement

James was out for a walk when it started to rain. He did not have an umbrella and he wasn't wearing a hat. His clothes were drenched, but not a single hair on his head got wet. How can this be?

The answer to this riddle is that James was bald. The hair on his head did not get wet, because he had no hair there to get wet.

Advertisement

I build up castles. I tear down mountains. I make some men blind, I help others to see. What am I?

This refers to the fact that sand can be used as part of building material, but also wear down that which has been built over time. While if sand gets in your eyes it can blind you, it can also be used to make glass, which can be used in glasses to help people see.

Advertisement

A word I know, six letters it contains, subtract just one, and twelve is what remains.

This riddle is a bit of wordplay. It refers to the fact that when you remove this "s" from "dozens" you are left with a "dozen," exactly 12.

Advertisement

Weight in my belly, trees on my back. Nails in my ribs, feet I do lack.

Many older ships were made of wood, which is what this riddle refers to. They are also held together with nails, have no feet, and weighty bodies.

Advertisement

What gets wetter the more it dries?

This riddle refers to the fact that the more a towel is used to dry off something else, the wetter it will get itself. This is a play on words.

Advertisement

I can be found where anything cannot be found; dead men eat me all the time, but if a living man eats me, he'll die. What am I?

Where there is an absence of anything, there is nothing. While dead men eat nothing, if living people eat nothing they will die.

Advertisement

What goes up when the rain comes down?

The answer to this riddle can be seen in cities the world over. When the rain comes down umbrellas go up.

Advertisement

There is a house. One enters it blind and comes out seeing. What is it?

This logic problem comes from the Ancient Sumerian civilization. It refers to the power of education.

Advertisement

What kind of coat can be put on only when wet?

A coat of paint can be applied to a surface only when wet. This is unusual amongst coats.

Advertisement

You give someone a dollar. You are this person's brother, but the person is not your brother. How can this be possible?

Whether someone of a brother is their sister or brother, they will always be their sibling. The first sentence of this riddle is just misdirection.

Advertisement

The man who invented it doesn't want it. The man who bought it doesn't need it. The man who needs it doesn't know it. What is it?

This dark riddle has a deceptively simple answer. If you need a coffin for yourself, you would not know it.

Advertisement

What is it that when you take away the whole, you still have some left over?

This riddle all comes down to wordplay. When you take away the "whole" in "wholesome" you still have "some" left.

Advertisement

You heard me before, yet you hear me again, then I die, 'til you call me again. What am I?

The answer to this riddle is "an echo." It has to do with their repetitive sound.

Advertisement

Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!