What's a question or problem that requires a bit of thought before you answer? It's a riddle, of course. The verb riddle can mean to speak in a puzzling fashion, though that use is not very common.

The word riddle might put you in mind of such brain-teasers as "Why did the chicken cross the road?", but riddles actually have a distinguished history in English literature going back to the 10th century. Today, you often find riddle used to mean a hard problem or question to figure out. Is it a riddle to you why you have to go to school? In an unrelated use, if something is riddled with holes, there are many holes in it, quite possibly from bullets!

Definitions of riddle
  1. verb
    pierce with many holes
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    type of:
    make a hole into
  2. verb
    spread or diffuse through
    “His campaign was riddled with accusations and personal attacks”
    synonyms: diffuse, imbue, interpenetrate, penetrate, permeate, pervade
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    spiritise, spiritize
    imbue with a spirit
    type of:
    penetrate, perforate
    pass into or through, often by overcoming resistance
  3. verb
    separate with a riddle, as grain from chaff
    synonyms: screen
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    type of:
    sieve, sift, strain
    separate by passing through a sieve or other straining device to separate out coarser elements
  4. noun
    a coarse sieve (as for gravel)
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    type of:
    screen, sieve
    a strainer for separating lumps from powdered material or grading particles
  5. noun
    a difficult problem
    synonyms: brain-teaser, conundrum, enigma
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    type of:
    a question raised for consideration or solution
  6. verb
    set a difficult problem or riddle
    riddle me a riddle”
  7. verb
    explain a riddle
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    type of:
    figure out, lick, puzzle out, solve, work, work out
    find the solution to (a problem or question) or understand the meaning of
  8. verb
    speak in riddles
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    type of:
    communicate, intercommunicate
    transmit thoughts or feelings
Word Family
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