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Brain-teasers wanted
October 6, 2005 3:40 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone got any good verbal brain-teasers please? Examples of what I mean by a "verbal brain-teaser": Answers inside

  • He only sleeps for one hour and fifteen minutes; if he's wound the alarm clock it must be an old-fashioned one which can't be set for AM or PM
  • Sweetcorn
  • Thursday is the name of his horse
The first one is particularly nice because there's a clue in the question which rewards careful reading. These are for kids, by the way.
posted by AmbroseChapel to Writing & Language (47 answers total)
 
If you're looking for lots, check out Mindtrap, which is a whole game full of brain-teasers like those.
posted by undertone at 3:44 PM on October 6, 2005


Oh, Lord -- I have about 50 of these - in my office at work, where I'm not.

Two classics: A plane goes down on the Canada-U.S. border. In what country should the survivors be buried?

and, You're driving a bus. [Tell long involved story about people getting on and off the bus and riding for various numbers of blocks]. Now, what color are the bus driver's eyes?

I'm sure everyone already knows those, but they belong on any comprehensive list.
posted by Miko at 3:45 PM on October 6, 2005


Undertone's got it. Mindtrap is a great source.

I compiled my list pre-Mindtrap. What a waste of effort!
posted by Miko at 3:46 PM on October 6, 2005


A man walks into a talent agent's office ...
posted by LilBucner at 3:49 PM on October 6, 2005


Try searching for "lateral thinking" puzzles -- I think that's what you're looking for.
posted by kmel at 3:53 PM on October 6, 2005


Check out the rec.puzzles archive, specifically real life puzzles, situation puzzles, and lateral thinking puzzles.
posted by edd at 4:02 PM on October 6, 2005


Another list, including: Is there a 4th of July in England?
posted by kurumi at 4:10 PM on October 6, 2005


I would be curious to know how many kids would "get" the first one (the wind-up alarm clock), even if given the answer. Do kids nowadays know about wind-up clocks?
posted by amro at 4:11 PM on October 6, 2005


These guys drive me nuts, pun unintentional.
posted by snsranch at 4:42 PM on October 6, 2005


A couple years back, I had an alarm clock that both wound and could be set for AM/PM. You had to pull a little pin when you set it, but it would rotate either higher or lower, and would display an AM/PM window. Got it at a supermarket, and worked great for years. Had to throw it away because my girlfriend at the time couldn't stand the sound of the ringing bells.
posted by klangklangston at 4:55 PM on October 6, 2005


Q: If you take six apples from ten apples, what have you got?
A: Six apples.

Q: How much dirt is there in a hole two feet by three feet by four feet deep?
A: None.

Q: Under what circumstances would you proceed on red and stop at green?
A: Eating watermelon.

Q: You're in the hardware store buying something for your house. If you pay $2 for one, $4 for twelve, and $6 for five hundred and twelve, what are you buying?
A: House numbers.

Q: What can go up a downspout down, and down a downspout down, but can't go up or down a downspout up?
A: An umbrella.

Q: Some months have 30 days, others have 31. How many months have 28 days?
A: Twelve

Q: Spell "Wednesday."
A: Most will forget "Capital W".
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:33 PM on October 6, 2005


To totally burst the bubble on the first question, it really depends on how long the man sleeps. He may get up before the alarm, or sleep through it entirely.

But the wind up part did trick me. I was wondering how anyone could sleep for 13 hours straight and still need an alarm to get up.
posted by idiotfactory at 6:17 PM on October 6, 2005


You throw away the outside, cook the inside, and then eat the outside and throw away the inside -- what is it?

That also works for a cow.

Q: I walk into my room, ready for bed, and hit the light switch, which is about nine feet from the bed. Miraculously, I manage to make it to my bed before the room gets dark. How?

Q: My uncle is a determined man. He was reading a book the other day when his wife came in and shut off the light, but he went right on reading in total darkness. How?
posted by Krrrlson at 6:40 PM on October 6, 2005


Q: A cowboy walks into a bar and the bartender suddenly pulls a gun on him! The cowboy says: "Hey, thanks!" Why?
posted by Krrrlson at 6:42 PM on October 6, 2005


Here are some good ones.
posted by jimmy at 7:01 PM on October 6, 2005


Ooh! Ooh! I know Krrrlson's answers:
1. It's day.
2. He's blind and reading Braille.
3. OK, I don't know this one.
posted by librarina at 7:04 PM on October 6, 2005


Q: What's brown and sticky?

A: A stick
posted by grateful at 7:08 PM on October 6, 2005


Krrlson's 3: The cowboy had hiccups and the shock fixed 'em.
posted by Decani at 7:08 PM on October 6, 2005


The cowboy had the hiccups?
posted by omair at 7:12 PM on October 6, 2005


Sigh...always preview.
posted by omair at 7:13 PM on October 6, 2005


This site has a whole bunch of teasers of different types (click on the categories on the left). I would have posted this sooner but I got distracted by doing some of the puzzles. They vary in difficulty, so not all of them are for kids.

Krrrlson: technically you don't "throw away the outside" of a cow-- you use it (the hide) to make leather.

Instant pedantry, just add MeFites!
posted by sarahnade at 7:45 PM on October 6, 2005


A man was found dead in a trunk of a 1964 Cadillac. He had a book of matches from a local restaurant in his front suit pocket and a piece of toilet paper was found stuck to his shoe.

How did he die?
posted by fishfucker at 7:54 PM on October 6, 2005


FF: He drew the short straw and fell from the hot air balloon? He hung himself and stood on a block of ice? He knew his wife's ventilator went out when the lighthouse went dark? I give up.
posted by Frank Grimes at 8:03 PM on October 6, 2005


this is a bit old - what is it?

four stiff standers
four dilly danders
two hookers
two lookers
and a flip flap
posted by anadem at 8:13 PM on October 6, 2005


"To totally burst the bubble on the first question"

To totally burst the bubble on most of these, the answers to these questions hardly represent the only possible answers, just the trickiest ones. Most of these either require you to assume something not quite given or exclude you from assuming something not quite given in order to arrive at the proper (fun) answer.

Also, there are lots of things you can do with corn husks (the outside of corn) so I guess corn is no better of an answer than a cow. Almost any fruit or vegetable that you don't eat the skin or pits/seeds of would work, along with pretty much any animal.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:40 PM on October 6, 2005


Plenty of wind-up clocks can cope with am/pm.
posted by krisjohn at 10:57 PM on October 6, 2005


A man arrived at a hotel and knew that when he left he'd be bankrupt. How? (or maybe more sporting, why didn't he stop it?)

4 people are found dead in a cabin on top of a mountain, but there's no way up. How did they get there and how did they die?

(I'm recalling these from childhood tellings, so may have scrambled them--we referred to them as 2-(or 5-)minute mysteries).
posted by artifarce at 11:16 PM on October 6, 2005


Q: A man has a bag of grain, a dog, and a chicken. He has to get them all across a river in a row boat, but the row boat can only hold him, and two of the items at a time. If he leaves the chicken with the dog, the dog will eat the chicken. If he leaves the chicken with the rice, the chicken will eat the grain. How can he get them all over?
posted by stray at 11:31 PM on October 6, 2005


Q: There is a room with no windows, with three lightbulbs in the ceiling. The door to the room is closed. Outside the room are three switches, connected to the lightbulbs. You must figure out which switch is connected to which lightbulb, but here's the catch. All of the lights must be OFF when you enter the room.
posted by stray at 11:34 PM on October 6, 2005


Q: Tony lives on the 15th floor. Every morning on his way to work, he gets in the elevator, and presses the button for the 1st (ground) floor. However on his way home from work, he gets in the elevator, presses the button for the 8th floor, and gets out and climbs the stairs the rest of the way. He doesn't need the exercise, so why does he do it?
posted by stray at 11:36 PM on October 6, 2005


Q: Indiana Jane is caught by a tribe of cannibals in the jungle. The chief, who considers himself quite the intellectual, tells her that he will be kind and will offer her two ways to die: She can tell him something that is a lie, and she will be stabbed by the men of the tribe. Or, she can tell him something that is a truth, and she will be roasted by the women of the tribe. Jane thinks for a moment, and tells the chief something. The chief is angered, but has no choice but to let her go.
What did she say?
posted by stray at 11:38 PM on October 6, 2005


1. Whoops, forgot to mention: Dog also eats grain. Heh. And animals will run away sans supervision.
Takes dog and grain over, leaves grain, takes dog back, picks up chicken, goes back over.

2. Flip on a switch. Leave it on for an hour. At the end of the hour, flick another switch, leave it for a minute. Then turn off the lights, go into the room, and feel the lightbulbs. The hottest light is connected to the hour switch, the warm to the minute switch and the cold to the off switch.

3. Tony is very short.

4. She says "I will be stabbed by the men of the tribe"
posted by stray at 11:58 PM on October 6, 2005


thanks frank and rusty.

the arbitrary answer is: he got shot in the fucking head.

that's the thing with all of these "puzzles", the answer is left to the quizzer.

hey, the guy who hung himself with a puddle of water? he hung himself and some dude showed up, took the chair, and spilled his evian.

I mean, there's no way any of these puzzles have one correct answer, unless you decide that the person giving it has the ultimate truth. it's a more interesting twenty questions, perhaps, but to find the "right" answer shouldn't award any validation -- you just found the answer that the questioner was looking for.
posted by fishfucker at 1:06 AM on October 7, 2005


Q: There is a room with no windows, with three lightbulbs in the ceiling. The door to the room is closed. Outside the room are three switches, connected to the lightbulbs. You must figure out which switch is connected to which lightbulb, but here's the catch. All of the lights must be OFF when you enter the room.

While still outside the room, open the door to the room. Observe which light bulbs go on and off as you flick each switch.

Just to illustrate RustyBrooks's and fishfucker's point.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:38 AM on October 7, 2005


Q: How many animals did Moses fit on the ark?

Q: Boy and father in car accident ... father dies ... boy brought in to operating room ... surgeon: "I can't operate on this boy; he's my son" ... how?

------------------------

A: None. It was Noah and the ark. 1

A: The surgeon was the boy's mother.

------------------------

1. Of course, if you're super-technical and a Torah/Bible nerd, you could say that Moses fit two cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant, but that's pretty technical. And super nerdy.
posted by Alt F4 at 2:45 AM on October 7, 2005


Q: What do you call a boomerang that doesn't come back?

A: A stick.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:01 AM on October 7, 2005


For the lightbulb challenge, unscrew all the lightbulbs and turn on one switch. Screw the bulbs back in until one goes on. Repeat for all three switches.

A personal favorite from childhood was if a rooster lays an egg on the top of a barn, which side does the egg roll down?
posted by devo at 5:27 AM on October 7, 2005


OHNOES!!11 CREEPY HERMAPHRODITE CHICKENS
posted by Sparx at 5:56 AM on October 7, 2005


When is a sword fight without swords?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:45 AM on October 7, 2005


The rooster leans leftward ever since his half-botched gender-reassignment surgery. Thus the egg always rolls down the left side of the barn.
posted by nobody at 8:55 AM on October 7, 2005


What is a foot long and slippery?
posted by cortex at 9:26 AM on October 7, 2005


You're locked in a small room with a piece of paper, a string and a ruler. You have to get a ping-pong ball out of a hole in the concrete floor just bigger than the ball. How?
posted by unrepentanthippie at 9:41 AM on October 7, 2005


Re: ping-pong ball.
Forget the paper, string, and ruler. Suck?
posted by nobody at 9:44 AM on October 7, 2005


I peed down the hole and waited for the ping pong ball to float.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 9:48 AM on October 7, 2005


What is a foot long and slippery?
A slipper. Or a big mussel.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:29 AM on October 7, 2005


Guy walks into a bar. Asks for and drinks a glass of water. Bartender pulls out a gun, shoots it over the guy's head. Guy says "Thanks" and walks out.

What happened?
posted by ottereroticist at 10:57 AM on October 7, 2005


Guy had the hiccups.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:57 AM on October 7, 2005


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