riddle

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riddle,

puzzling question, specifically one that consists of a fanciful description or definition of something to be guessed. A famous riddle was asked by the Sphinx: "What goes on four legs in the morning, on two at noon, on three at night?" OedipusOedipus
, in Greek legend, son of Laius, king of Thebes, and his wife, Jocasta. Laius had been warned by an oracle that he was fated to be killed by his own son; he therefore abandoned Oedipus on a mountainside.
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 guessed the answer correctly: "Man—in infancy he crawls, at his prime he walks, in age he leans on a staff." Samson's riddle is also famous: "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness" (Judges 14.14). It refers to a lion he had just killed, on which he saw bees and honey; he ate some of the lion and the honey. Punning riddles are common, as: "When is a door not a door?" The answer is, "When it's ajar." There is comparatively little riddle literature, but riddles do figure prominently in Old English. The Exeter Book contains many English verse riddles of uncertain date; they vary considerably in matter. There are also many riddles in Latin hexameters dating from Anglo-Saxon England.

Bibliography

See A. Taylor, English Riddles from Oral Tradition (1951); H. H. Abbott, ed., The Riddles of the Exeter Book (1968).

Riddle

 

a genre of folk poetry common to all nations; the poetic, often metaphorical description of an object or occurrence.

In antiquity the riddle had religious significance and pertained to popular superstitions and rites that prohibited calling objects by their names. With time the riddle acquired predominantly aesthetic and cognitive importance. It began serving as a test of wit. Riddles are distinguished by the variety of themes and wealth of artistic devices; inherent in them are compositional precision, rhyme, rhythm, and sound effects. Riddles often contain a humorous element that has social significance—for example, “The priest is short, the vestments many” (a cabbage: Stoit pop nizok, na nem sto rizok). Riddles have been widely incorporated into other genres of folklore, as well as into literature.

REFERENCES

Anikin, V. P. Russkie narodnye poslovitsy, zagadki i detskiifol’klor. Moscow, 1957.
Mitrofanova, V. “Sovremennoe sostoianie russkikh narodnykh zagadok.” In the collection Sovremennyi russkiifol’klor. Moscow, 1966.
Mitrofanova, V. Zagadki. Moscow, 1968.

riddle

[′rid·əl]
(design engineering)
A sieve used for sizing or for removing foreign material from foundry sand or other granular materials.

riddle

A sieve, esp. a coarse one for sand.

riddle

a sieve, esp a coarse one used for sand, grain, etc.
References in classic literature ?
But I can remember nothing;not even that particular riddle which you have heard me mention; I can only recollect the first stanza; and there are several.
and now I seemed to grasp the full secret of the riddle.
Spilkins, a young Slender of the neighborhood, who was reckless with his pocket-money and felt his want of memory for riddles.
The time passed quickly away, and when the seven years were nearly ended two of them grew terribly anxious and frightened, but the third made light of it, saying, 'Don't be afraid, brothers, I wasn't born yesterday; I will guess the riddle.
It is a riddle which shares with the universe the merit of having no answer.
He offered it as a solution of the riddle, and mysteriously he stated that it was no answer at all unless you found it out for yourself.
Arriving at Thebes he answered the riddle of the Sphinx and the grateful Thebans made their deliverer king.
Alice went on, not with any idea of making another riddle, but simply in her good-natured anxiety for the queer creature.
Though Sophia read the letter twice over with great attention, his meaning still remained a riddle to her; nor could her invention suggest to her any means to excuse Jones.
Old man Riddle don't like me a little bit," went on the uneasy suitor, bent upon marshalling his arguments.
Everything in woman is a riddle, and everything in woman hath one solution --it is called pregnancy.
I might have tried to find the right reading of this riddle, and tried in vain--but for Mr.