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How To Solve a Riddle

We want you to solve our riddles.

That’s about as complicated as it gets. Once RiddleVerse launches (soon!), fat cash prizes will go to the riddlers who solve each riddle fastest. If a riddle isn’t solved, we don’t get to keep the money – so we WANT you to solve these riddles, and we want you to have fun doing it. If you’re not in the shower mulling over our riddles, we haven’t done our job.

The Riddlemaster constructs each riddle in the form of a classic poem. Let’s deconstruct one, line by line, and see if we can get to an answer. Don’t forget: the answers are always fairly common knowledge – this won’t be like your nerdy bar trivia game where you have to remember a minor character in Battlestar Galactica.

This riddle was written as an example – and is a bit different from the official riddles we will be using in our cash prize contests. There are two answers.  Once you figure out one, though, you’ll find the other. Here we go.

“Two high-falutin’ figures

Of the continental crowd,

Stand tall among the citizens

And make their nations proud.

One speaking to the other

Might extend this invitation:

“I’ve got the time, good-looking,

If you’ve got the inclination.”

Remember that great riddles come from a misleading metaphor. There’s always a double meaning somewhere in there. Try to figure out where the poem is trying to lead you, and see if you can figure out another option. In this case, this poem seems like it’s talking about people – they’re speaking to each other, they’re making their nations proud. But what if it isn’t talking about people at all? Let’s find the word that we think refers to the object of this riddle.

Two high-falutin’ figures..

A figure could be a person; it could also be a thing, or a figure of speech, or a number. That gives you some options.

Highlight the nouns, and connect them with their key adjectives.

Ok, so we think figures is the noun. What do we know about these figures?

  • They’re “continental”
  • They’re tall – not only does this riddle call them “high-falutin’,” but it says “Stand tall among the citizens…”
  • They make their nations proud, so they’re clearly of some importance in national pride.
  • They might speak to each other, so we can probably assume that they don’t.

Pay attention to plurals.

And make their nations proud.

Now we know these “figures” belong to two different nations. We can infer that these two nations are on the same continent – assuming, of course, that “nations” itself isn’t a misleading term.

Look at the tense.

Every verb in this riddle is in present tense. So these “figures” exist now. We can then infer that they must be of huge national importance to these nations, because they induce pride.

Assume no words are wasted. What’s left? Look for other nouns – and their literal AND double meanings.

“I’ve got the time, good-looking,

If you’ve got the inclination.”

For now, let’s leave “good-looking” out of this one. What could “time” and “inclination” refer to? Maybe figure #1 has all the time in the world, or maybe it’s more literal. What about “inclination”? We’ve got two options… via the Oxford English Dictionary:

  • A person’s natural tendency or urge to act or feel in a particular way; a disposition or propensity.
  • A slope or slant.

Sum up what you know and rewrite it out in as simple a form as you can manage.

Here’s what we’ve got: Two present-day tall figures – who likely aren’t human, because they don’t speak to each other – exist on the same continent in different nations, and are points of national pride. One has the time, and one slopes or slants.

Did you get both answers yet?

Let us know in the comments – or by tweeting us, posting in our subreddit, or commenting on Facebook. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter while you’re at it –  you’ll be the first to know when our cash prize contests start.