Are you a participant?

45 Lateral Thinking Puzzles That Reward Those Who Think Beyond the Obvious

45 Lateral Thinking Puzzles That Reward Those Who Think Beyond the Obvious


Leah Nguyen 14 Nov 2023 9 min read

Are you into solving mysterious puzzles?

Want to flex your creative muscles and harness out-of-the-box ideas?

If so, solving these 45 lateral thinking puzzles can be your new hobby to kill time.

Dive in to see the best puzzles plus answers👇

Table of Contents

Tips for Better Engagement

Alternative Text

Looking for More Fun During Gatherings?

Gather your team members by a fun quiz on AhaSlides. Sign up to take free quiz from AhaSlides template library!

🚀 Grab Free Quiz☁️

Lateral Thinking Meaning

Lateral thinking means solving problems or coming up with ideas in a creative, non-linear way instead of logically step-by-step. It’s a term coined by the Maltese physician Edward de Bono.

Rather than just thinking from A to B to C, it involves looking at things from different angles. When your usual way of thinking isn’t working, lateral thinking can help you think outside the box!

Some lateral thinking examples:

  • If you’re stuck on a math problem, you draw pictures or act it out instead of just doing calculations. This helps you look at it in a new way.
  • Instead of going on the designated road in the video game you’re playing, you choose another way to the destination such as flying.
  • If arguing doesn’t work, you look for what you agree on instead of just pointing out the differences.
Lateral thinking puzzles
Lateral thinking puzzles

Lateral Thinking Puzzles with Answers

Lateral Thinking Puzzles for Adults

Lateral thinking puzzles for adults
Lateral thinking puzzles for adults

#1 – A man walks into a restaurant and orders food. When the food arrives, he starts eating. How can this be without paying?

Answer: He is part of the restaurant’s staff and gets a free meal as a work benefit.

#2 – In a running race, if you overtake the second person, what place would you be?

Answer: The second.

#3 – John’s father has five sons: North, South, East, and West. What is the fifth son’s name?

Answer: John is the fifth son.

#4 – A man is sentenced to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The first is full of burning fires, the second is full of assassins with guns, and the third is full of lions that haven’t eaten in 3 years. Which room is safest for him?

Answer: The third room is the safest because the lions have starved for so long they’ve surely died.

#5 – How did Dan manage to make a tennis ball he threw travel a short distance, come to a stop, reverse its direction, and return to his hand without bouncing it off any object or using any strings or attachments?

Answer: Dan tossed the tennis ball up and down.

Lateral thinking puzzles
Lateral thinking puzzles

#6 – Despite being short of money and asking his dad for a small fund, the boy at boarding school received a letter from his dad instead. The letter did not contain any money but rather a lecture on the perils of extravagance. Strangely, the boy was still content with the response. What could be the reason behind his satisfaction?

Answer: The boy’s dad is a famous person so he was able to sell the dad’s letter and gain extra money.

#7 – In a moment of imminent danger, a man found himself walking along a railway track with a fast-approaching train headed in his direction. In a bid to evade the oncoming train, he made a swift decision to leap off the track. Surprisingly, before executing the jump, he ran ten feet towards the train. What could be the reason behind this?

Answer: As the man traversed a railway bridge, he ran ten feet ahead to complete his crossing, then leapt off.

#8 – Three days in a row without the name Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday?

Answer: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

#9 – Why are $5 coins in 2022 worth more than $5 coins in 2000?

Answer: Because there are more coins in 2022.

#10 – If it takes 2 men 2 days to dig 2 holes, how long will it take 4 men to dig ½ of a hole?

Answer: You can’t dig half a hole.

Lateral thinking puzzles
Lateral thinking puzzles

#11 – Within a basement, three switches reside, all currently in the off position. Each switch corresponds to a light bulb situated on the main floor of the house. You can manipulate the switches, turning them on or off as you please. However, you are limited to a single trip upstairs to observe the outcome of your actions on the lights. How can you effectively ascertain which switch controls each specific light bulb?

Answer: Turn on the two switches and leave them on for a few minutes. After a few minutes, turn off the first switch then go upstairs and feel the warmth of the light bulbs. The warm one is the one you’ve recently turned off.

#12 – If you see a bird perched on a tree branch, how do you remove the branch without disturbing the bird?

Answer: Wait for the bird to go.

#13 – A man is walking in the rain with nothing to protect him from getting wet. Yet, not a single hair on his head gets wet. How is this possible?

Answer: He is bald.

#14 – A man is lying dead in a field. There is an unopened package attached to him. How did he die?

Answer: He jumped from a plane but couldn’t open the parachute in time.

#15 – A man is trapped in a room with only two doors. One door leads to certain death, and the other door leads to freedom. There are two guards, one in front of each door. One guard always tells the truth, and the other always lies. The man doesn’t know which guard is which or which door leads to freedom. What question can he ask to guarantee his escape?

Answer: The man should ask either guard, “If I were to ask the other guard which door leads to freedom, what would he say?” The honest guard would point to the door of certain death, while the lying guard would also point to the door of certain death. Therefore, the man should choose the opposite door.

Lateral thinking puzzles
Lateral thinking puzzles

#16 – There’s a glass full of water, how to get water from the bottom of the glass without pouring water out?

Answer: Use a straw.

#17 – On the left side of the road there is a Green House, on the right side of the road there is a Red House. So, where is the White House?

Answer: The United States.

#18 – A man is wearing a black suit, black shoes, and black gloves. He is walking down a street lined with streetlights that are all turned off. A black car with no headlights comes speeding down the road and manages to avoid hitting the man. How is this possible?

Answer: It is daylight, so the car can avoid the man easily.

#19 – A woman has five children. Half of them are girls. How is this possible?

Answer: The children are all girls so half of the girls are still girls.

#20 – When will 5 plus 2 equals 1?

Answer: When 5 days plus 2 days is 7 days, which equals 1 week.

Lateral Thinking Puzzles for Kids

Lateral thinking puzzles for kids
Lateral thinking puzzles for kids

#1 – What has legs but can’t walk?

Answer: An infant.

#2 – What doesn’t have legs but can walk?

Answer: A snake.

#3 – Which sea doesn’t have waves?

Answer: Season.

#4 – You move backwards to win and lose if you move forward. What’s this sport?

Answer: Tug-of-war.

#5 – A word that usually contains one letter, starts with E and ends with E.

Answer: Envelope.

Lateral thinking puzzles
Lateral thinking puzzles

#6 – There are 2 people: 1 adult and 1 baby go to the top of a mountain. The little one is the child of the adult, but the adult is not the father of the child, who is the adult?

Answer: The mom.

#7 – What word if saying wrong is right and saying right is wrong?

Answer: Wrong.

#8 – 2 ducks go in front of 2 ducks, 2 ducks go behind 2 ducks, 2 ducks go between 2 ducks. How many ducks are there?

Answer: 4 ducks.

#9 – What can’t be cut, dried, broken and burned?

Answer: Water.

#10 – What do you possess but other people use it more than you?

Answer: Your name.

#11 – What’s black when you buy it, red when you use it, and grey when you throw it away?

Answer: Coal.

#12 – What is deep without anyone digging it?

Answer: The sea.

#13 – What do you have when you share with a person, but when you share you won’t have it?

Answer: Secrets.

#14 – What can the left hand hold but the right hand can’t even if it wants?

Answer: Right elbow.

#15 – The 10 cm red crab races against the 15 cm blue crab. Which one runs to the finish line first?

Answer: The blue crab because the red crab has been boiled.

Lateral thinking puzzles
Lateral thinking puzzles

#16 – A snail must climb to the top of a 10m high pole. Every day it climbs 4m and every night it falls down 3m. So when will the other snail climb to the top if it starts on Monday morning?

Answer: In the first 6 days, the snail will climb 6m so on Sunday afternoon the snail will climb to the top.

#17 – What is the size of an elephant but weighs no grams?

Answer: The shadow.

#18 – There is a tiger tied to a tree. In front of the tiger, there is a meadow. The distance from the tree to the meadow is 15m and the tiger is very hungry. How can he get to the meadow to eat?

Answer: The tiger doesn’t eat grass so there’s no point going to the meadow.

#19 – There are 2 Yellow cats and Black cats, the Yellow cat left the Black cat with the Brown cat. 10 years later the Yellow cat returned to the Black cat. Guess what she said first?

Answer: Meow.

#20 – There is an electric train going south. Which direction will the smoke from the train go?

Answer: Electric trains don’t have smoke.

Visual Lateral Thinking Puzzles

#1 – Find the illogical points in this picture:

Lateral thinking puzzles
Lateral thinking puzzles


Lateral thinking puzzles

#2 – Who’s the guy’s bride?

Lateral thinking puzzles

Answer: B. The woman’s wearing an engagement ring.

#3 – Change the positions of the three matches to get two squares,

Lateral thinking puzzles


#4 – Find the illogical points in this picture:

Lateral thinking puzzles


Lateral thinking puzzles

#5 – Can you guess the car’s parking lot number?

Lateral thinking puzzles
Lateral thinking puzzles

Answer: 87. Turn the picture upside down to see the actual sequence.

Play More Fun Quizzes with AhaSlides

Organise fun brain teasers and puzzle nights with our quizzes🎉

People playing the general knowledge quiz on AhaSlides

Key Takeaways

We hope these 45 lateral thinking puzzles will put you in a challenging but fun time. And remember – with lateral puzzles, the simplest answer may be the one overlooked, so don’t overcomplicate possible explanations.

The answers provided here are just our suggestions and coming up with more creative solutions is always welcomed. Please tell us what other solutions you can think of for these riddles.

Free Quiz Templates!

Make memories with fun and light quizzes for any occasion. Improve learning and engagement with a live quiz. Register for Free!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the activities for lateral thinking?

Developing lateral thinking skills involves engaging in activities that encourage flexible, non-linear patterns of reasoning. Puzzle-solving, riddles and brain teasers provide mental challenges that must be approached creatively to find solutions beyond straightforward logic. Visualisation, improvisation games, and imagined scenarios prompt imagination-based thinking outside of routine boundaries. Provocation exercises, freewriting, and mind mapping foster making unexpected connections and examining topics from novel angles.

What type of thinker is good at puzzles?

People adept at thinking laterally, making connections across mental modes, and who enjoy puzzling through problems tend to do well resolving lateral thinking puzzles.