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riddle1

[rid-l] /ˈrɪd l/
noun
1.
a question or statement so framed as to exercise one's ingenuity in answering it or discovering its meaning; conundrum.
2.
a puzzling question, problem, or matter.
3.
a puzzling thing or person.
4.
any enigmatic or dark saying or speech.
verb (used without object), riddled, riddling.
5.
to propound riddles; speak enigmatically.
Origin of riddle1
1000
before 1000; Middle English redel, redels (noun), Old English rǣdels(e) counsel, opinion, imagination, riddle (rǣd(an) to counsel, rede + -els(e) deverbal noun suffix) with loss of -s- in ME through confusion with the plural form of the noun suffix -el -le (cf. burial); cognate with German Rätsel, Dutch raadsel
Synonyms
1. See puzzle.

riddle2

[rid-l] /ˈrɪd l/
verb (used with object), riddled, riddling.
1.
to pierce with many holes, suggesting those of a sieve:
to riddle the target.
2.
to fill or affect with (something undesirable, weakening, etc.):
a government riddled with graft.
3.
to impair or refute completely by persistent verbal attacks:
to riddle a person's reputation.
4.
to sift through a riddle, as gravel; screen.
noun
5.
a coarse sieve, as one for sifting sand in a foundry.
Origin
before 1100; (noun) Middle English riddil, Old English hriddel, variant of hridder, hrīder; cognate with German Reiter; akin to Latin crībrum sieve; (v.) Middle English ridlen to sift, derivative of the noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for riddle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Read then the riddle, thou hard nut-cracker,—the riddle that I am!

    Thus Spake Zarathustra Friedrich Nietzsche
  • The sphinx did not slay herself until her riddle had been guessed.

  • Scientific men were appealed to, to help solve the riddle, but were helpless.

    The Einstein See-Saw Miles John Breuer
  • Percy Roden was gratified, and read the riddle by the light of his own vanity.

    Roden's Corner Henry Seton Merriman
  • His brain worked over the riddle as he lingered under the shadow of the trees and gazed at the well-known face of the child.

British Dictionary definitions for riddle

riddle1

/ˈrɪdəl/
noun
1.
a question, puzzle, or verse so phrased that ingenuity is required for elucidation of the answer or meaning; conundrum
2.
a person or thing that puzzles, perplexes, or confuses; enigma
verb
3.
to solve, explain, or interpret (a riddle or riddles)
4.
(intransitive) to speak in riddles
Derived Forms
riddler, noun
Word Origin
Old English rǣdelle, rǣdelse, from rǣd counsel; related to Old Saxon rādislo, German Rätsel

riddle2

/ˈrɪdəl/
verb (transitive)
1.
(usually foll by with) to pierce or perforate with numerous holes: riddled with bullets
2.
to damage or impair
3.
to put through a sieve; sift
4.
to fill or pervade: the report was riddled with errors
noun
5.
a sieve, esp a coarse one used for sand, grain, etc
Derived Forms
riddler, noun
Word Origin
Old English hriddel a sieve, variant of hridder; related to Latin crībrum sieve
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for riddle
n.

"A word game or joke, comprising a question or statement couched in deliberately puzzling terms, propounded for solving by the hearer/reader using clues embedded within that wording" [Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore], early 13c., from Old English rædels "riddle; counsel; conjecture; imagination; discussion," common Germanic (cf. Old Frisian riedsal "riddle," Old Saxon radisli, Middle Dutch raetsel, Dutch raadsel, Old High German radisle, German Rätsel "riddle").

The first element is from Proto-Germanic *redaz-, from PIE *re-dh-, from PIE *re(1)- "to reason, count" (cf. Old English rædan "to advise, counsel, read, guess;" see read (v.)). The ending is Old English noun suffix -els, the -s of which later was mistaken for a plural affix and stripped off. Meaning "anything which puzzles or perplexes" is from late 14c.

"coarse sieve," mid-14c., alteration of late Old English hriddel, dissimilated from hridder, from Proto-Germanic *hrida- (cf. German Reiter), from PIE root *krei- "to sieve," and thus related to Latin cribrum "sieve, riddle," Greek krinein "to separate, distinguish, decide" (see crisis).

v.

"perforate with many holes," 1817 (implied in riddled), earlier "sift" (early 13c.), from Middle English ridelle "coarse sieve," from late Old English hriddel "sieve," altered by dissimilation from Old English hridder "sieve" (see riddle (n.2)).

"to pose as a riddle," 1570s, from riddle (n.1). Related: Riddled; riddler; riddling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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riddle in the Bible

(Heb. hodah). The oldest and, strictly speaking, the only example of a riddle was that propounded by Samson (Judg. 14:12-18). The parabolic prophecy in Ezek. 17:2-18 is there called a "riddle." It was rather, however, an allegory. The word "darkly" in 1 Cor. 13:12 is the rendering of the Greek enigma; marg., "in a riddle."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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