lateral thinking puzzles

50 lateral thinking questions with answers

Extra clues with each lateral thinking puzzle


1. The Helpful Barman Brain Teasing Puzzle.

(A classic)

A man walks into a bar and asks for a glass of water.

The barman ducks behind the bar and emerges holding a gun. He points the gun at the man’s face and yells “BANG”.

The man smiles at the barman and says quite sincerely, “thank you”.



     Clue – The man leaves happy and satisfied, without drinking any water.

(An answer appears just below)

Lateral thinking puzzles stimulate creative thinking

They literally . . . set you . . .   . .    .    free

What exactly IS lateral thinking? See definition here

     Answer – The man had hiccups.

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2. The Puzzling Bankruptcy

A man pushes his car until he reaches a hotel, at which point he realizes that he is bankrupt.


     Clue – This car wasn’t broken or out of fuel.

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

See how I apply lateral thinking to everyday situations here

     Answer – The man is playing Monopoly.

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3. The Elevator-Ride Puzzles.

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 derived solutions aren’t always clear at first, but once revealed, they often seem obvious

SEE . . . lateral thinking in “action”:

Lateral thinking in daily life

Lateral thinking in business

Lateral thinking “disruptive” creativity:

What is it?

     Answer – The man is a dwarf.

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

 – – – – –

4. The Unopened Package 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.

Lateral thinking puzzles help fight the onset of dementia and promote cognitive vitality

Thank goodness (LOL)

Inspirational: Quotes

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

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5. Police Raid with a puzzling outcome.  

(Detectives/police are sometimes trained with lateral thinking techniques)

Police are given a tip-off to the location of a man who just murdered someone. They don’t know what he looks like.

When they kick the front door down, they see a poker game in play between a carpenter, a truck driver, a fireman, and a mechanic. Without hesitation, they arrest the Fireman.

How do they know that they’ve chosen correctly?

     Clue – Equality.

Lateral thinking seeks solutions to intractable problems and puzzles through unorthodox methods or elements that would normally be ignored by logical thinking

Creativity can be learned:

Free Lateral Thinking and Creative Lessons

     Answer – Only the fireman was a man, the rest were women.

 – – – – –

6. The Amazing Baby Puzzles.

(Lateral thinking puzzles are easier to solve if you complete the lessons on this site)

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


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

The term ‘Lateral Thinking’ was coined by the Maltese-born UK psychologist Dr. Edward de Bono in his 1970 book ‘Lateral Thinking’

Did you know . . . creativity is merely the process of combining things that already exist in new ways:

How Creativity Works

     Answer – It was a ground floor window.

 – – – – –

7. The Locked Cellar Puzzles.

(Try out these lateral thinking puzzles on your kids. Why? Because kids think laterally more naturally)

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 the house, never to return, and went straight to the police station even though there was nothing unusual in the cellar.


     Clue – She had no idea if someone 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.

– – – – –

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 three 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

Lateral thinking puzzles … the perfect refreshment for the mind

Success results from good habits:

Time Management … for life!

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

 – – – – –

9. A 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 answers to this but they are all related.

Lighten up!

Puzzles lighten the mood and inspire creativity!

Creativity … the end of your troubles


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

 – – – – –

10. Puzzling Bus Stop Dilemma

(My favorite lateral thinking puzzle)

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 fears with creative strategy:

Creative 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.

 – – – – –


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






 – – – – –

Something really big and important is coming soon,

Michael Muxworthy

Michael Muxworthy Sci-fi Novel
The first book promises to solve real-life puzzles – Michael Muxworthy

Take a look at lateral thinking in action:

Classic Lateral Thinking Examples

Lateral Thinking Everyday Examples

Lateral Thinking Examples in Business

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

“Lateral thinking investigations . . . of the third kind”

If you have the sort of inquisitive mind that enjoys these classic lateral thinking puzzles, maybe you should consider doing the free lessons offered here on this website.

Lateral thinking puzzles for EVERYONE

Almost anything is possible when you master creative and lateral thinking skills. The first-ever lateral thinking fiction novel ever conceived is coming . . .

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