A riddle is a verbal puzzle that describes a thing or a concept in circumlocutory language. It can be phrased as a question or a statement. Asking a riddle means to challenge the listeners to see through the veiled or "coded" description and uncover the riddle's true meaning, which means to "solve" the riddle. A true riddle is neither of the following things:
- A test of knowledge, as in a quiz.
- A logical or mathematical problem.
- A game of luck, where one can only guess the answer randomly.
- A test of character or allegiance.
- A trick question which has no correct answer.
- Straightforward: A factual, though possibly unconventional description of the wanted answer. Example:
"You hear my sound, you feel me when I move, but see me you never will." (Answer: The wind)
- Enigma: Speaks of the solution in metaphorical and allegorical ways. Example:
"What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, three legs in the evening, and no legs at night?" (Answer: Man)
- Conundrum: Exploits the ambiguity of language by involving punny double meanings. Example:
"I can run, but never walk, Often a murmur, never talk, I have a bed but never sleep, I have a mouth but never eat. What am I?"(Answer: A river)Composite riddles may combine various types. Riddles are a very old amusement and examples are known from all the world over. They are a typical genre of Oral Tradition, and may be composed in verse. Compare Koan.
Tropes involving riddles:
- Riddle Contest: Two characters formally battle each other in a contest to solve riddles.
- Riddle Me This: A challenge to solve a riddle as part of a plot.
- Riddle of the Sphinx: A famous and very old riddle.
- Riddling Sphinx: How sphinxes have a tendency to ask riddles.
- These Questions Three: A challenge that requires the correct answering of three questions to pass; the questions don't have to be but often are riddles.
Hello, Unknown Troper. You'll need to get known to lend a hand here.