Lateral thinking puzzles to stimulate fresh and original thinking


The ballroom lateral thinking puzzle

A couple enters a grand ballroom only to find the occupants are dead. There has been no crime committed. The couple is not concerned by what they have found.

How is this possible?

     Clue – The couple expected what they found.

“They’re dead … they’re all dead!”


 Answer – The couple is diving on a sunken cruise ship. The occupants had drowned when the ship sank suddenly in a terrible disaster at sea.

Muxy’s Alternative Answer – The couple owned a pest control business. They were inspecting the ballroom to be sure the fumigation had been successful.

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A puzzle isn’t technically a lateral thinking puzzle unless it has multiple answers.

What exactly is lateral thinking?

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2. Lateral Thinking Puzzle of Survival … (with three very different answers)

A baby falls out of a window of a 20 story building … yet lives.


     Clue – The baby’s mother jumped out of the same window after she saw her baby fall. She also survived.

     Answer – It was a ground-floor window.

Muxy’s Alternative Answer – The mother and baby were birds.

Susan Dunn (from LIGHTBOX COMMUNICATIONS – Employer branding specialists based in Australia) – The baby and mother fell onto a window-cleaning platform that happened to be just outside at the time.

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*** Lateral thinking puzzle CHALLENGE ***

Submit your alternative answers in the comments section below. If I think it’s good and original, you’ll receive full credit

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3. The “angry cat” lateral thinking puzzle

Rachael and Thomas have moved into a share house with several other occupants. Thomas doesn’t like their new accommodation though because of the angry and aggressive cat that greeted them when they first walked in.

Rachael realizes that there isn’t really a problem.


     Clue – Even if Rachael does nothing at all, Thomas will eventually be okay with their new circumstances.

“I can’t live with this cat!”

      Answer – There is a mirror near the entrance. Thomas is a cat, saw his reflection, and thought that it was another cat challenging him for the territory.

Rachael can cover up the mirror until Thomas becomes settled, but Thomas will figure it out eventually even if she does nothing.

Muxy’s Twisted Answer – The angry cat belongs to the previous tenant. Rachael has offered to care for the cat for a few hours only until the previous tenants have completed their move.

Cal’s Answer – Thomas is blind and they have moved into a house full of lazy roommates, one of whom has a friendly and docile cat. The front door has never been maintained and so squeaks horribly, sounding just like a growling cat. As Rachel is walking out, she realizes that the door is to blame and so oils the hinges, stopping the sound and clearing the name of the innocent cat.

     Do you have a great answer? – (Scroll to the bottom of the page to submit your alternative answer in the comments section)

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4. The Elevator Lateral Thinking Puzzle … (with a twist)

A man living on the 30th floor of a high-rise building uses the elevator every day.

The man hates using the stairs, so he always catches the elevator all the way down to the ground level. However, when returning home, he usually gets out on the 24th floor and walks up the remaining stairs.


     Clue – On rainy and wet days only, he catches the elevator all the way up to the 30th floor.

Lateral thinking elevator

“The disruptive creativity of lateral thinking has the power to change your life in a positive direction

     Answer – The man is a dwarf.

On wet days he uses his umbrella to reach the 30th-floor elevator button.

Muxy’s Twist – The man is following the advice of his doctor who has told him he must exercise by climbing six flights of stairs every day.

There is a leak in the stairwell making it unsafe to use the stairs on wet and rainy days.

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Click here for a full list of the free lateral thinking pages available

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5. The snoring dilemma lateral thinking puzzle

The sound of Sam’s snoring is usually just annoying, but today it causes terror and panic.


      Clue – These people are hearing Sam’s snoring for the first time.


 Answer – Sam is a bus driver.

He’s fallen asleep while driving at high speed on the highway.

Muxy’s Twist – Sam is a pilot of a large passenger aircraft. He was reporting “an odd smell” coming through the air vents to a flight controller, who had put their conversation on loudspeaker.

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Dead man lateral thinking puzzle

6. The Death That Puzzles.

While walking across a large open field, you come across a man that has died very suddenly, unexpectedly, and only a very short time ago.

You look around but there is no one and nothing about except for an unopened package next to the man.

How did he die?

     Clue – The man’s death was accidental.

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Thank goodness (LOL)

Muxy’s collection of inspirational creative quotes

     Answer – The unopened package was the man’s parachute.

Muxy’s Answer – The man was supposed to throw a package of vital medical supplies down to troops on the ground but slipped and fell.

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7. The Locked Cellar Puzzles.

A woman was told to never open the locked cellar door or she would be in big trouble.

One day, she decided to force open the door. She then left, never to return, and went straight to the police station even though there was nothing unusual in the cellar.


     Clue – She didn’t know if anyone would see her when she opened the door.

Creativity shared with children is time well spent

Practice! Creativity is like most things … the more you practice, the better you get:

Lateral Thinking Exercises

     Answer – The woman was being kept a prisoner in the cellar.

Muxy’s Answer – The woman was stationed as a security guard outside a bank’s underground vault. She succumbed to temptation but lost her nerve so turned herself into police.

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8. The Man Who Hanged Himself Puzzles

There is a large empty shed with a dead man hanging from the middle of the central rafter.

The rope around his neck is eight feet long and his feet are two feet off the ground. The nearest wall is 20 feet away from the man. It is not possible to climb up the walls or along the rafters.

The man hanged himself.

How did he do it?

     Clue – The floor is wet.

When you notice the attention of your audience waning … take a quick break

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Success results from good habits:

Time Management … for life!

     Answer – The man stood on a large block of ice.

Muxy’s Answer – The rope is made from a material that shrinks when it gets wet.

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9. A Lateral Thinking Puzzle of Twins.

A mother gave birth to two children within an hour of each other on the same day and year, but the children aren’t twins.


     Clue – There can be several related answers.

Lighten up!

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Creativity … the end of your troubles


     Answer – They were triplets, or quadruplets, or . . .

Muxy’s Answer – The mother agreed to become a surrogate mother, but happened to fall pregnant at the same time.

     What’s Your Answer? – (Have a try! More than 5,000 people a month will see your effort)

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10. Puzzling Bus Stop Dilemma

It is a cold, wet, wild, and stormy evening as a man drives along an open, rural, and exposed road. As he nears a bus stop he notices that there are three people waiting:

  1. An old lady who is in urgent need of medical attention;
  2. His best friend who saved his life recently; and
  3. A wonderful girl that he had always wanted the opportunity to meet and ask out.

The man decides to stop and help out, but his car only holds the driver and one passenger. He will not overload his car.

What does he do?

     Clue – He achieves everything possible with this solution.

Stop when the thinking gets stale

Break through with a stimulating puzzle

Conquer your fear …

Creative Solution to Public Speaking

     Answer – The man gives the keys to his best friend and asks him to drive the old lady to the hospital while he “bravely” keeps the company of the girl until the bus arrives.

Muxy’s Answer – Rather than risk moving the old lady, the man uses his considerable medical knowledge to administer immediate first aid with the help of the wonderful woman he’s wanted to ask out. He sends his best friend to get help while he impresses the girl with his ability to take control and save the lady’s life.

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*** Lateral thinking puzzle CHALLENGE ***

Submit your alternative answer to any lateral thinking puzzle using “comment” below. If I think it’s good and original, you’ll receive full credit for you, your business, your website, or your cause.

*** Lateral thinking puzzle CHALLENGE***


Lateral thinking PUZZLES 11 TO 20

Try this BONUS puzzle with friends:

Do YOU have blinkered thinking?

Use 3 separate lines (straight or curved) to join the boxes labeled with letters; a single line for each to join “A” to “A”, “B” to “B” and “C” to “C”.

The lines cannot touch or cross each other. They must stay inside the (black lines of the) diagram, and cannot touch the sides. They cannot touch or go through other boxes. There’s no trick involved.

Lateral thinking demonstration


Over a lifetime, your thought process has been conditioned, or “blinkered”. You probably couldn’t solve the puzzle because of two deeply entrenched teachings:

  1. “A” comes before “B” and “C; and
  2. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

SEE the “Blinkered Thinking” solution HERE






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More than 10 years in the writing, my first novel is currently undergoing its 8th professional edit. It’s close(r) LOL …

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It is our capacity for creativity … that makes our human evolution so exceptional“

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Lateral thinking investigations … of the third kind


Chapter ONE

These 50 lateral thinking puzzles were brought to you by Michael John Muxworthy, Disruptive Author

Lateral thinking puzzles for EVERYONE

Check out the concise definition:  What is lateral thinking?

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For the complete lateral thinking menu:

Every lateral thinking aide you need to start your creative journey

5 thoughts on “Top 70 lateral thinking puzzles. Extra answers. Clever clues

  1. I think for the 10th one,
    the man calls the ambulance which comes straight away and tells his friend to stay with her, and then go out with the girl

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For the angry cat puzzle: Thomas is blind and they have moved into a house full of lazy roommates, one of whom has a friendly and docile cat. The front door has never been maintained and so squeaks horribly, sounding just like a growling cat. As Rachel is walking out she realizes that the door is to blame and so oils the hinges, stopping the sound and clearing the name of the innocent cat.

    Abstract enough?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m going to post your excellent answer underneath the puzzle. Should I simply describe you as “Cal”? Or would you like to provide more info about yourself? Thanks for a great effort, Michael


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