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Deliberately enigmatic or ambiguous question requiring a thoughtful and often witty answer. The riddle is a form of guessing game that has been a part of the folklore of most cultures from ancient times. Western scholars generally recognize two main kinds of riddle: the descriptive riddle, usually describing an animal, person, plant, or object in an intentionally enigmatic manner (thus an egg is a little white house without door or window); and the shrewd or witty question. A classical Greek example of the latter type is What is the strongest of all things?Love: iron is strong, but the blacksmith is stronger, and love can subdue the blacksmith.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on riddle, visit Britannica.com.