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Lateral Thinking Puzzles

Fillers | Lateral Thinking Puzzles

These lateral puzzles have been around for many years in one form or another and they are a great way to encourage discussion, thinking and creativity. Also once you know them, you can bring them in at a moment's notice, but before using them make sure you know a few, because just occasionally a student can solve it instantly. A PDF version (48KB) is provided for easy printing, cutting out and using in class.

1.  A man lives on the seventeenth floor of an apartment building. Every morning he takes the lift down to the ground. In the evening he goes into the lift and if it is raining he goes directly back to the seventeenth floor. Otherwise he goes to the tenth floor and climbs up seven flights of stairs.

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2.  A man walks into a bar and asks for water. The bartender pulls out a gun and points it at him. The man says, "Thank you," and walks out.

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3. A man drives down the motorway at 70 miles per hour. He passes three cars going 80 miles per hour, then gets pulled over by a police officer and is given a ticket.

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4. A man and his son are driving to watch the football. They have a car accident. The father is killed instantly. His son survives but is in critical condition. He is rushed to the hospital and prepped for surgery. The surgeon enters the operating room, looks at the boy and says, “I can’t operate on this boy. He’s my son.”

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5. The telephone rang in the middle of the night and the woman woke up. When she answered it the caller hung up. The caller felt better.

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6. A man called to a waiter in a restaurant, "There's a fly in my tea!"
The waiter replied, "I will bring you a fresh cup." After a few moments, the man called out, "This is the same cup of tea!" How did he know?

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7. A man managed to visit over thirty foreign countries without his passport. He was welcomed in each country and left each one of his own accord. He did this in one day.

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8. A black man dressed all in black, wearing a black mask, stands at a crossroads in a totally black-painted town. All of the streetlights in town are broken. There is no moon. A black-painted car without headlights drives straight toward him, but turns in time and doesn't hit him.

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9. An Arab sheikh tells his two sons that are to race their camels to a distant city to see who will inherit his fortune. The one whose camel arrives last will win. The brothers, after wandering aimlessly for days, ask a wise man for advise. After hearing the advice they jump on the camels and race as fast as they can to their destination.

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10. You are on an island (in the center) that is one mile long and 100 yards wide. The vegetation is very dry from a long drought. Suddenly it catches fire at one end of the island, and a strong wind is blowing it towards you, burning the whole width of the island. There's no beach, only sheer cliffs, and the sea is infested with sharks. What can you do?

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11. A landlord is threatening to evict a father and his beautiful young daughter, unless she agrees to marry him. There are a lot of witnesses and in a false gesture of sincerity, he offers her an opportunity to remain in the house without marrying him. He has a silk bag in which he says he has placed a white and a black stone from the footpath on which they're standing. If she picks the white stone from the bag, then she wins; if she picks the black, she loses. However, the young girl saw him place two black stones in the bag. She can't accuse him of cheating, because he would say that his good character was called into question and storm off without showing the bag. How does the clever girl win?

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12. A man is alone on an island with no food and no water, yet he does not fear for his life.

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13. During the second world war on a foggy day the Americans and British had the following conversation:
Americans: "Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision."
British: "Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision."
Americans: "This is the Aircraft Carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, the second largest ship in the united states' atlantic fleet. I demand that you change your course 15 degrees north or counter measures will be taken."
The British were unarmed and did not move. What made the Americans change their minds?

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14. A man is driving his car. He turns on the radio, listens for five minutes, turns around, goes home, and shoots his wife.

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15. A man marries twenty women in his village but isn't charged with polygamy.

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