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Mystery Word Riddles

How puzzles that combine wordplay and riddles can stimulate mental agility.

Key points

  • Riddles in antiquity were connected with mystery and suspense.
  • Solving riddles and mysteries stimulates mental agility.
  • Combining riddles with scrambled words can induce a form of mental agility based on what can be called ludic suspense.

Mystery, suspense, and riddles were thought to be intrinsically intertwined in the ancient world. Solving a mystery or riddle was even felt to provide emotional relief from the problems of life, at least in a temporary way. This very same feeling is experienced today when we are confronted with a mystery story or a challenging riddle, both of which have the ability to build suspense within us—an anxious state of mind that can only be relieved by finding the solution.

On the other hand, leaving a mystery or riddle unsolved tends to produce a sense of angst that might linger until the solution is unraveled. The state of mind that results from doing puzzles or confronting mysteries can be called “ludic suspense"—defined simply as the kind of mental anxiety brought about by ludic challenges such as riddles.

Riddles Combined with Scrambled Word Clues

Riddles emerge in the ancient world and are intrinsically intertwined with the original myths, legends, and mysteries of ancient societies. Wordplay, as such, came later, which today includes such popular ludic constructs as crosswords and scrambled words.

Now, if we combine the two forms—riddling and wordplay—we can bring about ludic suspense in a specific way. This post presents ten puzzles that constitute such a combination. The idea is to unravel what a given "mystery word" is, for which you are given a clue in the form of a riddle. You are also given five words whose letters are all scrambled up. These are your clues, since they are words connected thematically to the mystery word. By unscrambling the words, you can use them, therefore, to help you identify the mystery word.

Sample Puzzle

Here is an example of this kind of puzzle.

Mystery Word Riddle: It can be done in someone’s face or out of the other side of your mouth, but it is neither spit nor kissing. What is it?

Scrambled Word Clues:

  • HCUCCKLE
  • LHOCRTE
  • RORA
  • CCAKR UP
  • FGFAUW

By unscrambling the words you will get: chuckle, chortle, roar, crack up, and guffaw. You will now see a thematic pattern emerge in the word clues—all five describe ways of laughing, or are related to it in some way. That is the mystery word (laughing). The riddle alludes to the expressions “to laugh in someone’s face” and “to laugh out of the other side of the mouth,” implying respectively “to show contempt for someone” and “to be careful because a situation will change from happy to unhappy.” That’s all there is to it.

As a last word on the connection between riddles, mystery, and ludic suspense, which constitutes a way to stimulate mental agility, I would like to quote from one of my favorite books of all time on the origin and nature of puzzles, Helene Hovanec’s 1978 book, The Puzzlers’ Paradise: From the Garden of Eden to the Computer Age: “Riddles are to be found throughout the mythologies of many cultures and were important in ancient religion and philosophy as one of the vehicles through which the sages expressed their wisdom. Primitive peoples were obsessed with imagery and looked upon the ability to pose and solve riddles as indicative of mental agility.”

Puzzles

1. Mystery Word Riddle: At night they appear without being fetched; by day they disappear without being stolen. What are they?

Scrambled Word Clues:

  • VENHEAS
  • ROIDSASTE
  • NETPLAS
  • INOLUMUS
  • EBRICELTIES

2. Mystery Word Riddle: It is no sooner spoken than it is broken. What is it?

Scrambled Word Clues:

  • IEQUT
  • HHUS
  • RECSECY
  • CENCRETIE
  • LNESSTILS

3. Mystery Word Riddle: It can speak any language, but actually knows none. What or who is it?

Scrambled Word Clues:

  • RATIONVREEERB
  • PETIRETION
  • SONARENCE
  • LECTIREFON
  • VEWAS

4. Mystery Word Riddle: We do this every day to find out more, although sometimes it can raise doubts.

Scrambled Word Clues:

  • WEANSR
  • QUIINRY
  • TERINROTIONGA
  • ERQUY
  • OBPRE

5. Mystery Word Riddle: What can be swallowed or can swallow someone?

Scrambled Word Clues:

  • CAGRIFITIONAT
  • NITVAY
  • COEITNC
  • NOBSBERY
  • NORHO

6. Mystery Word Riddle: They protect against the cold; but they should be taken off in greetings.

Scrambled Word Clues:

  • TENMITS
  • NDHAS
  • NGBOXI
  • UNTLGAETS
  • TSMIT

7. Mystery Word Riddle: Even if you can see its colors, don’t chase it, because you will never catch it.

Scrambled Word Clues:

  • RAC
  • FACTREIONR
  • RNAI
  • ECTRSPUM
  • NISUGHTL

8. Mystery Word Riddle: What can run but cannot walk, has a mouth but cannot talk, has a bed but never sleeps?

Scrambled Word Clues:

  • RESTAM
  • OOBKR
  • VWAES
  • VULRIET
  • LOFOD

9. Mystery Word Riddle: It has a neck, but no head. What is it?

Scrambled Word Clues:

  • NTCOAIRNE
  • QLIDUI
  • ITPHERC
  • KLAFS
  • ARCAEF

10. Mystery Word Riddle: Strangely, it goes up but never comes back down. What could it possibly be?

Scrambled Word Clues:

  • EARYS
  • OUYNG
  • LOD
  • DULAT
  • HCIDL

Answers

  1. Stars (Scrambled Word Clues: heavens, asteroids, planets, luminous, celebrities)
  2. Silence (Scrambled Word Clues: quiet, hush, secrecy, reticence, stillness)
  3. Echo (Scrambled Word Clues: reverberation, repetition, resonance, reflection, waves)
  4. Question (Scrambled Word Clues: answer, inquiry, interrogation, query, probe)
  5. Pride (Scrambled Word Clues: gratification, vanity, conceit, snobbery, honor)
  6. Gloves (Scrambled Word Clues: mittens, hands, boxing, gauntlets, mitts)
  7. Rainbow (Scrambled Word Clues: arc, refraction, rain, spectrum, sunlight)
  8. River (Scrambled Word Clues: stream, brook, waves, rivulet, flood)
  9. Bottle (Scrambled Word Clues: container, liquid, pitcher, flask, carafe)
  10. Age (Scrambled Word Clues: years, young, old, adult, child)
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