- There is a man who lives on the top floor of a very tall building.
Everyday he gets the elevator down to the ground floor to leave the
building to go to work. Upon returning from work though, he can only
travel half way up in the lift and has to walk the rest of the way unless it's
This is probably the best known and most celebrated of all lateral
thinking puzzles. It is a true classic. Although there are many
possible solutions which fit the initial conditions, only the canonical answer is truly satisfying.
- A man and his son are in a car accident. The father dies on the
scene, but the child is rushed to the hospital. When he arrives the surgeon
says, "I can't operate on this boy, he is my son!" How can this be?
- A man is wearing black. Black shoes, socks, trousers, jumper, gloves
and balaclava. He is walking down a black street with all the
A black car is coming towards him with its light off but somehow
manages to stop in time. How did the driver see the man?
- One day Kerry celebrated her birthday. Two days later her older twin
brother, Terry, celebrated his birthday. How?
- Why is it better to have round manhole covers than square ones?
This is logical rather than lateral, but it is a good puzzle that can
be solved by lateral thinking techniques. It is supposedly used by a very
well-known software company as an interview question for prospective
- A man went to a party and drank some of the punch. He then left
early. Everyone else at the party who drank the punch subsequently died of
poisoning. Why did the man not die?
- A man died and went to Heaven. There were thousands of other people
there. They were all naked and all looked as they did at the age of 21.
He looked around to see if there was anyone he recognized. He saw a couple
and he knew immediately that they were Adam and Eve. How did he know?
- A woman had two sons who were born on the same hour of the same day
of the same year. But they were not twins. How could this be so?
- A man walks into a bar and asks the barman for a glass of water. The
barman pulls out a gun and points it at the man. The man says 'Thank
you' and walks out.
This puzzle claims to be the best of the genre. It is simple in its
statement, absolutely baffling and yet with a completely satisfying
solution. Most people struggle very hard to solve this one yet they
like the answer when they hear it or have the satisfaction of figuring it
- The man is very, very short and can only reach halfway up the
elevator buttons. However, if it is raining then he will have his umbrella with
him and can press the higher buttons with it
- The surgeon was his mother.
- It was day time.
- At the time she went into labor, the mother of the twins was
traveling by boat. The older twin, Terry, was born first early on March 1st. The
boat then crossed a time zone and Kerry, the younger twin, was born on
February the 28th. Therefore, the younger twin celebrates her birthday two days
before her older brother.
- A square manhole cover can be turned and dropped down the diagonal
of the manhole. A round manhole cannot be dropped down the manhole. So for
safety and practicality, all manhole covers should be round
- The poison in the punch came from the ice cubes. When the man drank
the punch, the ice was fully frozen. Gradually it melted, poisoning the
- He recognized Adam and Eve as the only people without navels.
Because they were not born of women, they had never had umbilical cords and
therefore they never had navels. This one seems perfectly logical but
it can sometimes spark fierce theological arguments.
- They were two of a set of triplets (or quadruplets, etc.). This
puzzle stumps many people. They try outlandish solutions involving test-tube
babies or surrogate mothers. Why does the brain search for complex solutions
when there is a much simpler one available?
- The man had hiccups. The barman recognized this from his speech and
drew the gun in order to give him a shock. It worked and cured the
hiccups-so the man no longer needed the water. This is a simple puzzle to state but a difficult one to solve. It is a perfect example of a seemingly irrational and incongruous situation having a simple and complete explanation. Amazingly this classic puzzle seems to work in different cultures and languages.
Sent by Mr.Chandra Sekhar