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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.


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



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.


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.


(design engineering)
A sieve used for sizing or for removing foreign material from foundry sand or other granular materials.


A sieve, esp. a coarse one for sand.


a sieve, esp a coarse one used for sand, grain, etc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Hence, riddling sessionsmay also serve as a part of passing knowledge to the young through entertainment, because riddles as educational devices exercise, train the mind, impart cultural values and attitudes, teach dominance and submission roles, and promoting group cohesion and unity (Burns, 1976:139).
And also, in riddling, the contestant who answers most riddles correctly or poses the most challenging riddles is highly regarded by peers.
Riddling also serves other functions, Burns (1976) posits that through riddles, feelings of aggression and sexual desires are vented out while Finnegan (1970:442) argues that "[riddles] release tension imposed by moral and social code".
Though the giant's riddles are the most elaborate of the riddling sequence, the way in which one sinful or violent action can be an image for another is also illustrated in Pelias's riddle.
It would seem that the appeal of Christianity may lie in its very impenetrability, in its riddling promise of access to that which is inherently ineffable, unknowable, inscrutable.
Rather than closing in on itself, the riddling discourse of grace leads to an infinite regression of ever deeper and more wonderful mysteries, dissolving finally into an ineffable vision of marvels too great for language to record.
Some Comments on Riddling and Related Poetic Devices in Classical Sanskrit," does not attempt the sort of "existential" connections that are made by others - Hasan-Rokem, Stein, and Shulman.
180) - involving the imagery and philosophy of Yoga, Tantra, and Natha practices - not out of any desire to display their wit and verbal dexterity, which are, according to Ramanujan, the hallmarks of riddling.