- Rhymes: -ɪdəl
From Middle English redel, redels, from Old English rǣdels, rǣdelse (“counsel", "opinion", "imagination", "riddle”), from Proto-Germanic *rēdisliją (“counsel, conjecture”). Akin to Old Saxon rādisli, rādislo, rēdilsa (Low German Radels, Dutch raadsel), Old High German rātisla (German Rätsel (“riddle”)), Old English rǣdan (“to read, advise, interpret”).
riddle (plural riddles)
- A verbal puzzle, mystery, or other problem of an intellectual nature.
- Here's a riddle: It's black, and white, and red all over. What is it?
- John Milton (1608-1674)
- To wring from me, and tell to them, my secret, / That solved the riddle which I had proposed.
- 1907, Robert W. Chambers, chapter VIII, The Younger Set:
- Elbows almost touching they leaned at ease, idly reading the almost obliterated lines engraved there. ¶ "I never understood it," she observed, lightly scornful. "What occult meaning has a sun-dial for the spooney? I'm sure I don't want to read riddles in a strange gentleman's optics."
- An ancient verbal, poetic, or literary form, in which, rather than a rhyme scheme, there are parallel opposing expressions with a hidden meaning.
- Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. (Luke 17:33)
- Keep sharpening the blade, you'll soon blunt it. (Lau Tsu, Tao Te Ching 9)
- To speak ambiguously or enigmatically.
- (transitive) To solve, answer, or explicate a riddle or question
- Riddle me this, meaning Answer the following question.
From Middle English riddil, ridelle (“sieve”), from Old English hriddel (“sieve”), alteration of earlier hridder, hrīder, from Proto-Germanic *hridą (“sieve”), from Proto-Germanic *hrid- (“to shake”), from Proto-Indo-European *krey-. Akin to German Reiter (“sieve”), Old Norse hreinn (“pure, clean”), Old High German hreini (“pure, clean”), Gothic 𐌷𐍂𐌰𐌹𐌽𐍃 (hrains, “clean, pure”). More at rinse.
riddle (plural riddles)
- A sieve with coarse meshes, usually of wire, for separating coarser materials from finer, as chaff from grain, cinders from ashes, or gravel from sand.
- A board with a row of pins, set zigzag, between which wire is drawn to straighten it.
- To put something through a riddle or sieve, to sieve, to sift.
- You have to riddle the gravel before you lay it on the road.
2014 April 8, Helen Yemm, “Thorny problems: How can I revive a forsythia hedge? [print version 5 April 2014, p. G9]”, The Daily Telegraph (Gardening):
- In its finest form – two years old or more – leaf mould can be riddled (sieved) and used, mixed 50/50 with sand, to make fine potting compost for seeds and cuttings.
- To fill with holes like a riddle.
- The machinegun fire began to riddle the poor Afghanis.
- To fill or spread throughout; to pervade.
- Your argument is riddled with errors.