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 periodicals archive ?
The research presented in this book demonstrates the Song to be part of the rare literary genre of riddles and points to the two lovers in the Song as hinting to the Temple keruvim.
Dale draws on principles of eco-criticism and eco-theology to consider cultural and biblical influences on depictions of nature in the vernacular Exeter Book riddles.
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Roberts's The Riddles of The Hobbit displays a great deal of erudition in the knotty tradition of Anglo-Saxon riddle lore, and effectively brings to bear Old Norse and Old Icelandic riddling texts as well, showing, as he explains in his Introduction, that Tolkien borrowed quite creatively from these traditions, turning The Hobbit into a text with riddles at its thematic core.
Some of his conclusions--his "solutions" to the Riddles of The Hobbit--are more tenuous than others, but the perspective which Roberts adopts suggests that this quality is a merit, that the ingenuity of his reading is its own reward.
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'You open the door first' and 'you open your eyes first' have both been accepted as answers by those posing the riddles on Facebook.
A precedent for this interest in writing implements and materials can be found in the Latin enigmata of Symphosius, Aldhlem, and others, which plainly inspire many of the Exeter Book riddles. (3) Not only do the Latin enigmas share with the Old English riddles an interest in scribal implements and activities, but they similarly make use of prosopopoeia--the rhetorical device through which objects and nonhuman creatures are given speech.
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