Classic lateral thinking puzzles with new twists – multiple original solutions – provocative clues – and a reader challenge to submit your own original answers

11. A strange find

Eight pieces of coal, a carrot, a top hat, and a scarf are found lying on the ground.

How did they get there?

     Clue – Despite their poor condition, you might use them again (except for the carrot LOL)

“Only for this special occasion”

     Answer – A snowman melted

Muxy’s Answer – The homeowner is a prankster and wanted to confuse his neighbors by making them try and remember the snowman that never was.

     What’s Your Answer? – (Scroll to the bottom of the page to leave your answer in the comments section)

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Imagination is the key:

Creative Memory Technique

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12. Put some clothes on!

A man dies and goes to heaven.

When he gets there, everyone is naked and appears to be only 18 years old. He sees a couple and recognizes them as Adam and Eve.


     Clue – He knows who they are immediately and without doubt

“I’m sort of wishing we weren’t all naked”

     Answer – Adam and Eve weren’t born from a woman so they had no umbilical cords or navels.

Muxy’s Answer – The man is Cain or Able and therefore recognizes his parents

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Good creative habits:


Practice exercises:

Lateral thinking exercises with examples to assist

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13. The Surgeon

A father and son are in a car crash. The father dies while the son is taken to the hospital gravely injured.

When he gets there, the surgeon says, ‘I can’t operate. This is my son!’

How is this possible?

Clue – It’s a modern world

“I can’t do this”

Answer – The surgeon was the boy’s mother.

Muxy’s Answer – The boy had two fathers. The surgeon was in a same-sex marriage.

Susan Dunn Answer – The surgeon was the boy’s biological father. He’d given the boy up for adoption.

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Every problem you’ll ever face can be resolved using this powerful four-step process.

Creative Problem-Solving

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Submit your alternative answer to any puzzle below, and if I think it’s good and original, you’ll receive full credit.

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14. The Chicken Dilemma

Six eggs in a basket.

Six different people each take an egg.

How is it that there is still one egg in the basket?

     Clue The last person …

“The answer isn’t black or white”

     Answer The last person took the basket with them.

Muxy’s Answer – Two of the people are conjoined twins.

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Creativity is merely the combining of things that already exist … in new ways:

Creative Combinations

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15. A disarming proposition

A man with no left arm receives a parcel in the post. He opens the parcel to find a severed human left arm carefully preserved. He then re-wraps the arm and sends it to a second man.

Several days later, the second man, who also has no left arm, receives the package. He inspects the arm and then throws it away satisfied.


     Clue – The left arm belongs to the man who mailed it in the first place.

“A special arm of the postal service”

     Answer – The three men without left arms had been marooned on a deserted island together. Starving, they drew lots to give up their left arms for food. They had agreed that ALL three would give up their left arms no matter what. They were rescued when two of the men had given up their arms.

The third man was living up to his obligation.

Muxy’s Answer – The man who severed and mailed his own arm had been at fault in a terrible road accident that had cost the other two men their arms. He wanted to demonstrate his remorse.

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NO FEAR! Speak impressively on any subject at any time:

Creative Public Speaking

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16. Bags of Marbles

You have 12 marbles and 3 bags.

How many different quantities can you load in each bag yet still have the same number of marbles in each bag?

And what are those quantities?

     Clue – There are three quantities … or not.

“I’ve lost my …”

     Answer – !2, 6, and 4. You can achieve this by putting one or two bags inside another.

Muxy’s Answer – Or Zero. The bags are too small for the marbles.

     What’s Your Answer? – (Scroll down to leave your answer, and PLEASE take a moment to “like” this page and “subscribe” to my blog)

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Exceptional goals require exception vision:

Creative Goal-Setting

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17. Which Light Switch

Three possible light switches are a long way from the cellar, with a difficult trip down rickety stairs to check which switch works the single light.

You only want to make one trip.

You are told that the other two switches should never be left on for extended periods as they no longer work and could cause a fire.

How do you determine which light switch is for the cellar light and only make a single trip down to do so?

     Clue – There is a ladder and/or tools available.

“I have no idea what they do”

     Answer – Turn on the first light switch and leave it on for a few minutes, then turn it off and turn on the second light switch.

When you go downstairs, if the bulb is off, but warm, it is the first switch.

If the bulb is on, it is the second switch.

If the bulb is off and cold, it is the third light switch.

Muxy’s Answer – Drill a hole in the floor so you can tell when the light goes on or off.

Dwayne Kington”s Answer – Set up a series of mirrors so that you can see the light turn on and off.

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Challenge the way things are … even if you believe things are working well:

Escape Dominant Thinking

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18. Tall and Short

Two men want to open a high window in a completely empty room.

One man is big and very tall, the other short.

The short man gets onto the shoulders of the big and taller man, but he is just short of reaching the window catch.

Without leaving the room, or receiving any help or tools, how do they open the window?

     Clue – Their combined heights may be the same, but their heights plus . . .

“We really shouldn’t be seen together”

     Answer – If the taller man stands on the shoulders of the shorter man, they achieve the extra reach of the taller man’s arms.

Muxy’s Answer – The taller man throws the shorter man through the window.

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19. The Secret Entrance

During a war, a man builds an underground bomb shelter for his family.

The very heavy steel cover of the deep vertical entrance must remain unattached as it often serves a purpose elsewhere.

The man is not worried that the heavy steel might accidentally fall through the hole and onto one of his children or wife though.


     Clue – Shapes or wires.

“Don’t drop the lid on your head”

     Answer – The cover is round and can’t fit through the hole

Muxy’s Answer – The cover is securely and permanently tethered to an anchor-point midway between the “other purpose” and the underground shelter so that it just reaches.

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Creative advice for the entrepreneurial spirit:

Entrepreneurial Creativity 

20. Marble in a Bottle

You place a marble inside a bottle and put a cork firmly into the neck.

Is it possible to get the marble out without removing the cork or breaking/cutting the bottle?

     Clue – It happens sometimes at a dinner party.

“Now try to do it without removing the cork”

     Answer – Push the cork into the bottle

Muxy’s Answer – Drill a hole through the cork

     What’s Your Answer? – (Take a moment to “like” this page and “subscribe” to my blog)

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Check these out:

Disruptive lateral thinking strategies for writers and authors

Lateral thinking fiction to turn the groupthink tide

Inspirational quotes of creativity

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Or keep going with even MORE puzzles:

Go back to: New puzzles 1 to 12

Go back to: Classic puzzles 1 to 10

OR … keep going!

Puzzles 21 to 30

Puzzles 31 to 40

Brainteasing puzzles for kids

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Submit your original answers here for consideration:


Michael Muxworthy author

“Life’s purpose … is to evolve.

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

Coming soon from lateral thinking author, Michael Muxworthy: a powerful exposition into the alien question.

Lateral thinking investigations … of the third kind