riddle

1 of 4

noun (1)

rid·​dle ˈri-dᵊl How to pronounce riddle (audio)
1
: a mystifying, misleading, or puzzling question posed as a problem to be solved or guessed : conundrum, enigma
2
: something or someone difficult to understand

riddle

2 of 4

verb (1)

riddled; riddling ˈrid-liŋ How to pronounce riddle (audio)
ˈri-dᵊl-iŋ

intransitive verb

: to speak in or propound riddles

transitive verb

1
: to find the solution of : explain
2
: to set a riddle for : puzzle
riddler
ˈrid-lər How to pronounce riddle (audio)
ˈri-dᵊl-ər
noun

riddle

3 of 4

noun (2)

: a coarse sieve

riddle

4 of 4

verb (2)

riddled; riddling ˈrid-liŋ How to pronounce riddle (audio)
ˈri-dᵊl-iŋ

transitive verb

1
: to separate (something, such as grain from chaff) with a riddle : screen
2
: to pierce with many holes
riddled the car with bullets
3
: to spread through : permeate
a book riddled with errors

Did you know?

Riddle Me This

Riddle comes from an Old English word meaning "opinion" or "conjecture" that is related to a verb meaning "to interpret."

Choose the Right Synonym for riddle

mystery, problem, enigma, riddle, puzzle mean something which baffles or perplexes.

mystery applies to what cannot be fully understood by reason or less strictly to whatever resists or defies explanation.

the mystery of the stone monoliths

problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern.

problems created by high technology

enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret.

his suicide remains an enigma

riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction.

the riddle of the reclusive pop star

puzzle applies to an enigma or problem that challenges ingenuity for its solution.

the thief's motives were a puzzle for the police

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English redels, ridel, from Old English rǣdelse opinion, conjecture, riddle; akin to Old English rǣdan to interpret — more at read

Noun (2)

Middle English ridel, going back to Old English hriddel (attested once), alteration (by dissimilation or suffix substitution) of hridder, hrīder, going back to Germanic *hrīdra- (whence also Old Saxon hrīdra "sieve," Old High German rītera), going back to Indo-European *krei̯(h1)̯-dhro- or *krei̯(h1)̯-tro- (whence Latin crībrum "sieve," Old Irish críathar, Old Welsh cruitr "winnowing fan"), from *krei̯(h1)- "sift, separate" + *-dhro-, *-tro-, suffixes of instrument — more at certain entry 1

Note: See note at acetabulum.

First Known Use

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

1571, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Noun (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of riddle was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near riddle

Cite this Entry

“Riddle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/riddle. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

riddle

1 of 4 noun
rid·​dle ˈrid-ᵊl How to pronounce riddle (audio)
1
: a baffling, misleading, or puzzling question presented as a problem to be solved or guessed : conundrum
2
: something or someone difficult to understand

riddle

2 of 4 verb
riddled; riddling ˈrid-liŋ How to pronounce riddle (audio)
-ᵊl-iŋ
1
: to find the answer for a riddle or mystery
2
: to create a riddle for : mystify
3
: to speak in riddles
riddler
-lər How to pronounce riddle (audio)
-ᵊl-ər
noun

riddle

3 of 4 noun
: a coarse sieve

riddle

4 of 4 verb
riddled; riddling ˈrid-liŋ How to pronounce riddle (audio)
-ᵊl-iŋ
1
: to sift or separate with or as if with a riddle
2
a
: to pierce with many holes
riddled the car with bullets
b
: to spread through
a book riddled with mistakes

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