If a funny riddle is like a brainier version of a corny joke, a hard riddle is like a super challenging brainteaser that rewards kids with laughter in the end. In addition to teaching our kids empathy, cooperation, patience, and the like, we also want to engage their intellect. But that doesn’t mean giving them vocabulary quizzes at the dinner table — or relying exclusively on dumb jokes for laughs. Books, activities, and puzzles are all fun (emphasis on fun) ways to stimulate kids and engage them in problem-solving. But you don’t want to insult your kid’s intelligence by giving them puzzles that are too easy for them to solve. As they get older, you’ll have to work harder to keep them on their toes with even trickier riddles.
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When brainstorming a tricky riddle that’ll stump your kid, think about how their brain works. The best part of tough riddles is they reward every type of kid, depending on the riddle you give them: There are the number games for the math nerds, the wordplay for the book lovers, and the absurdist puzzles for the creative thinkers. Below are the best tricky riddles, with answers, that your kid may be able to figure out on their own…with enough patience.
Riddle: What two things can you never have for breakfast?
Answer: Lunch and dinner.
- Riddle: What is so fragile that saying its name breaks it?
- Riddle: What can run but never walks, has a mouth but never talks, has a head but never weeps, has a bed but never sleeps?
Answer: A river.
- Riddle: What can fill a room but takes up no space?
- Riddle: If you drop me I’m sure to crack, but give me a smile and I’ll always smile back. What am I?
Answer: A mirror.
- Riddle: What is the capital in France?
Answer: The letter F is the only capital letter in France.
- Riddle: The more you take, the more you leave behind. What are they?
- Riddle: I turn once, what is out will not get in. I turn again, what is in will not get out. What am I?
Answer: A key.
- Riddle: A man calls his dog from the opposite side of the river. The dog crosses the river without getting wet, and without using a bridge or boat. How?
Answer: The river was frozen.
- Riddle: What breaks yet never falls, and what falls yet never breaks?
Answer: Day and night.
- Riddle: What goes through cities and fields, but never moves?
Answer: A road.
- Riddle: I am always hungry and will die if not fed, but whatever I touch will soon turn red. What am I?
- Riddle: The person who makes it has no need of it; the person who buys it has no use for it. The person who uses it can neither see nor feel it. What is it?
Answer: A coffin.
- Riddle: A man looks at a painting in a museum and says, “Brothers and sisters, I have none, but that man’s father is my father’s son.” Who is in the painting?
Answer: The man’s son.
- Riddle: With pointed fangs I sit and wait; with piercing force I crunch out fate; grabbing victims, proclaiming might; physically joining with a single bite. What am I?
Answer: A stapler.
- Riddle: I have lakes with no water, mountains with no stone, and cities with no buildings. What am I?
Answer: A map.
- Riddle: What does man love more than life, hate more than death or mortal strife; that which contented men desire; the poor have, the rich require; the miser spends, the spendthrift saves, and all men carry to their graves?
- Riddle: Mr. and Mrs. Mustard have six daughters and each daughter has one brother. How many people are in the Mustard family?
Answer: There are nine Mustards in the family. Since each daughter shares the same brother, there are six girls, one boy and Mr. and Mrs. Mustard.
- Riddle: I am something people love or hate. I change people’s appearances and thoughts. If a person takes care of themself, I will go up even higher. Some people might want to try and hide me, but I will show. No matter how hard people try I will never go down. What am I?
- Riddle: Only one color, but not one size,
Stuck at the bottom, yet easily flies.
Present in sun, but not in rain,
Doing no harm, and feeling no pain.
What is it?
Answer: A shadow.
- Riddle: Who is that with a neck and no head, two arms and no hands?
Answer: A shirt.
- Riddle: If 11 plus two equals one, what does nine plus five equal?
11 o’clock plus two hours = one o’clock
Nine o’clock plus five hours = two o’clock
- Riddle: Can you write down eight eights so that they add up to one thousand?
Answer: 888 + 88 + 8 + 8 + 8 = 1,000
- Riddle: It can’t be seen, can’t be felt, can’t be heard, and can’t be smelt. It lies behind stars and under hills, and empty holes it fills. It comes first and follows after, ends life, and kills laughter. What is it?
Answer: The dark.
- Riddle: What English word retains the same pronunciation, even after you take away four of its five letters?
- Riddle: Three playing cards in a row. Can you name them with these clues? There is a two to the right of a king. A diamond will be found to the left of a spade. An ace is to the left of a heart. A heart is to the left of a spade. Now, identify all three cards.
Answer: Ace of Diamonds, King of Hearts, Two of Spades.
- Riddle: What is it that, given one, you’ll have either two or none?
Answer: A choice.
- Riddle: George, Helen, and Steve are drinking coffee. Bert, Karen, and Dave are drinking soda. Using logic, is Elizabeth drinking coffee or soda?
Answer: Elizabeth is drinking coffee. The letter E appears twice in her name, as it does in the names of the others that are drinking coffee.
- Riddle: I have branches, yet I have no leaves, no trunk, and no fruit. What am I?
Answer: A bank.
- Riddle: What has a head, a tail, is brown, and has no legs?
Answer: A penny.
- Riddle: When I’m used, I’m useless. Once offered, soon rejected. In desperation, I’m often expressed. What am I?
Answer: An excuse.
- Riddle: I have four legs, but no hair. People ride me for hours, but don’t go anywhere. Without needing to be tugged or turned on, I always manage to be ready for work. What am I?
Answer: A desk.
- Riddle: Which of the following words don’t belong in the group and why? CORSET, COSTER, SECTOR, ESCORT, COURTS.
Answer: Courts. All of the others are anagrams of each other.
- Riddle: When John was six years old, he hammered a nail into his favorite tree to mark his height. Ten years later, at age sixteen, John returned to see how much higher the nail was. If the tree grew by five centimeters each year, how much higher would the nail be?
Answer: The nail would be at the same height since trees grow at their tops.
- Riddle: I am four times as old as my daughter. In 20 years time, I shall be twice as old as her. How old are we now?
Answer: I am 40 and my daughter is 10.
- Riddle: There was a man who was born before his father, killed his mother, and married his sister. Yet, there was nothing wrong with what he had done. Why?
Answer: His father was in front of him when he was born, therefore he was born before him. His mother died while giving birth to him. Finally, he grew up to be a minister and married his sister at her ceremony.
- Riddle: Lily is a lily pad in a small pond. Lily doubles her size each day. On the 20th day, she covers the whole pond. On what day was Lily half the size of the pond?
Answer: Day 19, it’s not 10 because on day 20 she doubled from day 19, so 19 must be half the size of the pond.
- Riddle: What common English verb becomes its own past tense by rearranging its letters?
Answer: Eat and ate.
- Riddle: When asked how old she was, Suzie replied, “In two years I will be twice as old as I was five years ago.” How old is she?
Answer: She’s 12.
- Riddle: Lighter than what I am made of, more of me is hidden than is seen. What am I?
Answer: An iceberg.
- Riddle: It’s shorter than the rest, but when you’re happy, you raise it up like it’s the best. What is it?
Answer: A thumb.
- Riddle: The man who bought it doesn’t want it for himself. The man who buys it doesn’t buy it for himself. And the man who needs it doesn’t know he needs it. What is it?
Answer: A coffin.
- Riddle: I have cities, but no houses. I have mountains, but no trees. I have water, but no fish. What am I?
Answer: A map.
- Riddle: A girl has as many brothers as sisters, but each brother has only half as many brothers as sisters. How many brothers and sisters are there in the family?
Answer: Four sisters and three brothers.
- Riddle: First, think of the color of the clouds. Next, think of the color of snow. Now, think of the color of a bright, full moon. Now, answer quickly: What do cows drink?
- Riddle: Different lights make me strange, thus into different sizes I will change. What am I
Answer: I am the pupil of an eye.
- Riddle: What has a tail and a head but no body?
Answer: A coin.
- Riddle: I am an odd number. Take away a letter and I become even. What number am I?
- Riddle: If a red house is made of red bricks, and a yellow house is made of yellow bricks, what is a greenhouse made of?
Answer: All greenhouses are made of glass.
- Riddle: What can never be put in a saucepan?
Answer: Its lid.
- Riddle: What can you catch but never throw?
Answer: A cold.
- Riddle: I’m a well-established band, but I’ve never played a note. What am I?
Answer: A rubber band.
- Riddle: I’m covered with eyes, but I can’t see and live mostly in the dark. What am I?
Answer: A potato.
- Riddle: I have a single eye but can’t see. What am I?
Answer: A needle.
- Riddle: What can travel around the world without moving from its corner?
Answer: A stamp.
- Riddle: What kind of room has no walls or corners?
Answer: A mushroom.
- Riddle: Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the tallest mountain peak in the world?
Answer: It was still Mt. Everest.
- Riddle: What has a bottom at its top?
Answer: Your legs.
- Riddle: How far can you walk into the forest?
Answer: Halfway. After that, you’re walking out.
- Riddle: When is a door no longer a door?
Answer: When it’s ajar.
- Riddle: Two in a corner, one in a room, zero in a house, but one in a shelter. What am I?
Answer: The letter “R.”
- Riddle: Spelled forward I’m what you do every day, spelled backward I’m something you hate. What am I?
- Riddle: A room contains a match, a kerosene lamp, a candle, and a fireplace. What do you light first?
Answer: The match.
- Riddle: What belongs to you, but everyone else uses it?
Answer: Your name.
- Riddle: If your uncle’s sister is not your aunt, what relation is she to you?
Answer: Your mother.
- Riddle: Which is heavier: a ton of sand or a ton of feathers?
Answer: They’re the same: They both weight a ton.
- Riddle: Take one out and scratch my head. I am now black but once was red. What am I?
Answer: A match.
- Riddle: Until I am measured, I am not known. Yet how you miss me, when I have flown. What am I?
- Riddle: What begins with an “e” and only contains one letter?
Answer: An envelope.
- Riddle: What word in the dictionary is spelled incorrectly?
- Riddle: You measure my life in hours, and I serve you by expiring. I’m quick when I’m thin and slow when I’m fat. The wind is my enemy.
- Riddle: You see a boat filled with people. It has not sunk, but you don’t see a single person on the ship when you look again. Why?
Answer: They were all married.
- Riddle: What is seen in the middle of March and April that can’t be seen at the beginning or end of either month?
Answer: The letter R.
- Riddle: What English word has three consecutive double letters?
- Riddle: I have keys, but no locks and space, and no rooms. You can enter, but you can’t go outside. What am I?
Answer: A keyboard.