- a question or statement so framed as to exercise one's ingenuity in answering it or discovering its meaning; conundrum.
- a puzzling question, problem, or matter.
- a puzzling thing or person.
- any enigmatic or dark saying or speech.
- to propound riddles; speak enigmatically.
Origin of riddle1
SynonymsSee more synonyms for riddle on Thesaurus.com
- to pierce with many holes, suggesting those of a sieve: to riddle the target.
- to fill or affect with (something undesirable, weakening, etc.): a government riddled with graft.
- to impair or refute completely by persistent verbal attacks: to riddle a person's reputation.
- to sift through a riddle, as gravel; screen.
- a coarse sieve, as one for sifting sand in a foundry.
Origin of riddle2
Examples from the Web for riddle
Dickinson did this as a game and a test—she loved riddles and turned herself into a riddle wrapped in her own lines.Sor Juana: Mexico’s Most Erotic Poet and Its Most Dangerous Nun
November 8, 2014
The question, almost akin to a riddle, is certainly a relevant one to anybody in a creative field.Frank Gehry Is Architecture’s Mad Genius
October 27, 2014
Able-bodied people rarely notice the barriers that riddle the world which keep the disabled from participating in society.#YesAllWomen Should Have the Church On Their Side
June 1, 2014
When Scott Kleinberg wrote about the riddle for The Chicago Tribune, he changed the answer.
Some will send paragraph-long descriptions of why the riddle is ‘flawed.’
The sphinx did not slay herself until her riddle had been guessed.The Hall of Fantasy (From "Mosses From An Old Manse")
Percy Roden was gratified, and read the riddle by the light of his own vanity.Roden's Corner
Henry Seton Merriman
"He hasn't got a father," I replied, hoping for some answer as to a riddle.Ranald Bannerman's Boyhood
I had enough of it, and went out, firmly resolved to find the key to the riddle.A Hero of Our Time
M. Y. Lermontov
All questioning was vain; her heart gave no solution of the riddle.Beauty and The Beast, and Tales From Home
- a question, puzzle, or verse so phrased that ingenuity is required for elucidation of the answer or meaning; conundrum
- a person or thing that puzzles, perplexes, or confuses; enigma
- to solve, explain, or interpret (a riddle or riddles)
- (intr) to speak in riddles
- (usually foll by with) to pierce or perforate with numerous holesriddled with bullets
- to damage or impair
- to put through a sieve; sift
- to fill or pervadethe report was riddled with errors
- a sieve, esp a coarse one used for sand, grain, etc
Word Origin and History for riddle
"A word game or joke, comprising a question or statement couched in deliberately puzzling terms, propounded for solving by the hearer/reader using clues embedded within that wording" [Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore], early 13c., from Old English rædels "riddle; counsel; conjecture; imagination; discussion," common Germanic (cf. Old Frisian riedsal "riddle," Old Saxon radisli, Middle Dutch raetsel, Dutch raadsel, Old High German radisle, German Rätsel "riddle").
The first element is from Proto-Germanic *redaz-, from PIE *re-dh-, from PIE *re(1)- "to reason, count" (cf. Old English rædan "to advise, counsel, read, guess;" see read (v.)). The ending is Old English noun suffix -els, the -s of which later was mistaken for a plural affix and stripped off. Meaning "anything which puzzles or perplexes" is from late 14c.
"perforate with many holes," 1817 (implied in riddled), earlier "sift" (early 13c.), from Middle English ridelle "coarse sieve," from late Old English hriddel "sieve," altered by dissimilation from Old English hridder "sieve" (see riddle (n.2)).
"to pose as a riddle," 1570s, from riddle (n.1). Related: Riddled; riddler; riddling.
"coarse sieve," mid-14c., alteration of late Old English hriddel, dissimilated from hridder, from Proto-Germanic *hrida- (cf. German Reiter), from PIE root *krei- "to sieve," and thus related to Latin cribrum "sieve, riddle," Greek krinein "to separate, distinguish, decide" (see crisis).