Article image

16 Head-Scratching Riddles To Make You Think

Language may drastically change over time, but many of the ways in which we use it have stayed the same, a phenomenon proven by ancient riddles and “yo mama” jokes discovered on Mesopotamian and Babylonian tablets dating back thousands of years. Indeed, it seems probable that for as long as we’ve been communicating with each other, we’ve been finding ways to keep things interesting with wordplay, good-natured razzing, and riddles.

Though linguistic trickery is found in all corners of the globe, the word “riddle” originated from the Common Germanic verb rēdaną, which means “to interpret or guess.” Within the definition lies the explanation for what makes riddles so appealing and hilariously frustrating: There are often many potential answers, but it’s the guesser’s responsibility to outsmart the riddler by choosing the right one.

Riddles are part brainteaser, part joke, and part exploration into the subtle nuances of language. We challenge you to guess the correct answers to these head-scratching riddles, and then scroll down to see whether you’re right.

The Riddles

1. I have cities but no houses; I have mountains but no trees; I have water but no fish. What am I?

Share Quote

2. If you eat me, my sender will eat you. What am I?

Share Quote

3. What living thing has a heart that doesn’t beat?

Share Quote

4. What’s the coolest letter in the alphabet?

Share Quote

5. I can fly but have no wings; I can cry but have no eyes. What am I?

Share Quote

6. Always in you, sometimes on you; if I surround you, I can kill you. What am I?

Share Quote

7. What can’t be burned in a fire nor drowned in water?

Share Quote

8. What word gets shorter when you add two letters to it?

Share Quote

9. A barrel of water weighs 60 pounds. Someone put something in it, and now it weighs 40 pounds. What did the person add?

Share Quote

10. What is it that, given one, you’ll have either two or none?

Share Quote

11. What has 10 letters and starts with gas?

Share Quote

12. When you need me, you throw me away. When you don’t need me, you bring me back. What am I?

Share Quote

13. What kind of coat is always wet when you put it on?

Share Quote

14. I speak without a mouth and hear without ears. I have no body, but I come alive with the wind. What am I?

Share Quote

15. What can you hold in your right hand but never in your left?

Share Quote

16. When is a door not a door?

Share Quote

The Answers

1. A map

Share Quote

2. A fishhook

Share Quote

3. An artichoke

Share Quote

4. B (it’s surrounded by A/C)

Share Quote

5. A cloud

Share Quote

6. Water

Share Quote

7. Ice

Share Quote

8. Short (becomes shorter)

Share Quote

9. A hole

Share Quote

10. A choice

Share Quote

11. Automobile

Share Quote

12. An anchor

Share Quote

13. A coat of paint

Share Quote

14. An echo

Share Quote

15. Your left hand

Share Quote

16. When it’s ajar

Share Quote

Featured image credit: Martial Red/ Shutterstock

Author image
About the Author
Melanie Davis-McAfee
M. Davis-McAfee is a freelance writer, musician, and devoted cat mom of three living in southwest Kentucky.
Play more header background
Play more icon
Daily Question
Who wrote, "May you have a strong foundation, when the winds of changes shift"?

More Inspiration

happiness theme icon

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.

separator icon
Marie Curie
motivation theme icon

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.

separator icon
Eden Phillpotts
hope theme icon

Don't allow your rituals to become ruts.

separator icon
Todd Henry
love theme icon

Never be so focused on what you’re looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find.

separator icon
Ann Patchett
wisdom theme icon

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.

separator icon
Hal Borland
happiness theme icon

Admire as much as you can, most people don't admire enough.

separator icon
Vincent van Gogh
motivation theme icon

If one has no sense of humor, one is in trouble.

separator icon
Betty White
hope theme icon

Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.

separator icon
Thomas Edison
love theme icon

Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent.

separator icon
Mignon McLaughlin
wisdom theme icon

Man is indestructible because of his simple will to freedom.

separator icon
William Faulkner
happiness theme icon

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence.

separator icon
Helen Keller