When is a door not a door? When it’s ajar. Get it? A jar? This joke with all the puns is an example of what is called a riddle. You might ask, “What is a riddle?” It’s a type of puzzle with clever wording that’s fun to try to figure out.
Riddles have been around for a long time and have been used in many stories and myths. Join us for a look at the history of riddles and a collection of more fun riddles that you or your friends can use to test your knowledge.
How Riddles Came to Be
We don’t know how long people have been telling riddles, but the oldest written riddle was found on a set of Sumerian cuneiform tablets from more than 4,500 years ago.
“There is a house. One goes in blind and leaves able to see. “What’s that?” “A school” is the correct answer. Riddles are interesting because many ancient cultures seemed to like them as much as we do now.
Riddles from the past can be found in the Bible and in the writings of early Greeks and Norse people.
Riddles were still fun in the Middle Ages, as shown by the Exeter Book, an Anglo-Saxon book from the 10th century that has more than 90 riddles. It seems that riddles have always been a part of popular culture, no matter when they were made.
How Does a Joke Become a Riddle?
Riddles and jokes are alike because they both depend on using words in a clever or surprising way. But riddles usually ask people to guess what something is by comparing it to things that don’t seem to have anything to do with it.
When you tell someone a joke, you probably don’t always expect them to know the answer because it could be anything. The fun part about the riddle is that it gives you clues and hints that you can use to figure out the answer if you pay close enough attention.
Jokes are always meant to be funny, which is another important difference. Riddles can be funny, but they don’t always have to be. Riddles are more about making the person who hears them think and use their imagination.
A riddle isn’t just meant to make people laugh; it’s meant to get them to think outside the box and look at problems from different points of view.
How Riddles Fit into Stories and Myths
In stories, riddles are often given by one character to another as a challenge to figure out. Riddles have been used in stories for a long time, from ancient mythology to modern literature.
One reason is to show how smart a character is and challenge the reader to figure out the answer with them. Riddles from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books are all you need. Remember how Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire had a riddle about the Sphinx? Or the puzzles Harry had to solve as part of the Triwizard Tournament?
These puzzles keep the characters (and the readers) on their toes by making them look at problems from a new angle. Sometimes, authors use riddles as bets between characters with a lot at stake. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Bilbo had to figure out a series of riddles to keep Gollum from eating him.
Do you want to find out if you could have passed Gollum’s test? Have a look at these puzzles:
“What has roots that no one can see, is taller than trees, goes up and up, but doesn’t grow?”
“It cries without a voice, flutters without wings, bites without teeth, and mutters without a mouth.”
“It can’t be seen, felt, heard, or smelled. It’s behind the stars and under the hills, and it fills empty spaces. It comes out first and then comes what comes after it. It kills life and laughter.”
“This thing eats everything: birds, animals, trees, and flowers. It gnaws iron and bites steel. It grinds hard stones into meal. It kills a king, destroys a town, and knocks down a mountain.”
Don’t know what to do? The first one is about a mountain, and the second one is about the wind. The answer to the third question is “dark,” and the answer to the last question is “time.”
More Fun Riddles for Kids
Some of the puzzles we’ve talked about are great, but some of them are also very hard. Here are some more fun riddles for kids that you and your friends can use to see how smart you are. We’ll put the answers at the bottom in a paragraph.
What do you own, but someone else uses it more than you do?
What is better to have when it breaks?
What goes up when the rain comes down?
I don’t have feet, hands, or wings, but I can still get to the sky. Qué soy?
A man in a car saw a gold door, a silver door, and a bronze door. What door did he open first?
There are 30 days in some months and 31 days in others. 28 is how many months?
People can see through walls thanks to an old tool that is still used in many parts of the world today. What’s that?
A horse was tied to a rope that was 5 feet long, but the horse’s food was 15 feet away. How was the horse able to get to the food?
Two men played chess for five games. Both teams won the same amount of games, and there were no ties. How could this be?
I run around the pasture but don’t go anywhere. Qué soy?
Don’t try? Find out how to solve each of the above puzzles. 1. Who you are. 2. An Egg. 3. An Umbrella. 4. Smoke. The door to the car. 6. Everyone. 7. A window. 8. There was nothing at the other end of the rope. They were not competing with each other. 10. A fence.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about riddles and getting some new brainteasers to try on your friends and family! Riddles.com has more fun puzzles for you to try.