Imagem card

Riddles: A collection

Traditional riddles of Brazilian folklore known from north to south of the country. They exist in prose or verse. Some are puzzles, others just questions, but all are fruits of the creative spirit, wisdom and intelligence of the people.

Riddles: A collection

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 26/05/2022

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation - Specialist in Scientific Documentation

Traditional riddles of Brazilian folklore known from north to south of the country were collected from various sources, selected and gathered here. They exist in prose or verse. Some are puzzles, others just questions, but all are fruits of the creative spirit, wisdom and intelligence of the people.


Found all over the world with a few variations, they are very useful as a mental exercise. Hardly does one find riddles that are designed to prompt a direct, single answer. There is a lot of ambiguity in the formulation of the riddles, which is used precisely to confuse the interlocutor. Therefore, in addition to being a pastime for children and adults, riddles are instructive and a good exercise for reasoning.


Enjoy and have fun, rack your brain or burning the midnight oil to find the answers, before finding them at the bottom of the text.


Guess if you can:


1. - It has scales and is not a fish. It has a crown and is not a king.
2 – What is born green, grows red and dies black?
2 – You have it, they have it, nobody has it.
4 – What is born and dies every day?
5 – What does the man bring in front and the rooster bring behind?
6 – What does not break in stone but does in water?
7 – What is it that when turned down is full and when turned up is empty?
8 – She lives under the roof, she's a delicate lady, she doesn't take sun or rain, but she is always wet.
9 – What is today, was yesterday and will be tomorrow?
10 – What only works if it gets hit?
11 – What is made to walk and does not walk?
12 – It jumps, but it's not a ball, it has a bag, but it's not a woman.
13 – White when born, black by nature, life for him is death, death for him is life.
14 – Which animal does not work and is always tired?
15 – It has a neck and no head; it has arms but no hands, it has a body but no legs; it has a chest, but no heart.
16 – No water entering, no wind entering, but there is a well of water inside.
17 – When the left leg gets right?
18 – What is it that has a beak but does not peck?
19 - What is it that walks with its feet on its head?
20 – What does the woman have in the middle and the man in the front?
21 – It has leaves but no branches; it has a cover, but does not come out in the rain; open is knowledge, closed is worthless; it can be big or small, whatever size you want.
22 – What is it that the more you lose, the more you have?
23 – What is it that goes up to the door of the house but does not come in?
24 – What is it that has a foot but without a leg it cannot walk?
25 – What did one toe say to the others?
26 – I am a fruit that is planted in a hole, tasty and valuable, but I carry a feeling, because I only produce one offspring.
27 – What is the most explosive city in the world?
28 – Round as a basin and shallow as a plate, but not even the seas of the world can actually fill it.
29 – The hotter, the fresher.
30 – What is standing still in the middle of the goal?
31 – I have wings, but I have no feathers, I am a mammal and I know how to fly, during the day I rest and sleep; at night I go hunting.
32 – Which hand weighs the most?
33 – What is always ahead of us and we never see?
34 – It's made to eat but nobody ever eats.
35 – What is the animal that has neither bone nor spine?
36 – What is it that only lives with its legs in the ears?
37 – I have a tail, but I'm not a dog, I don't have wings and I know how to fly, if they let me go, I don't go up, I go out in the wind to play.
38 – The mother is green, the daughter is red, the mother is meek, the daughter is naughty.
39 – What is it that breaks as one talks?
40 – What is made to cook but never cooks at all?
41 – What is it that always walks under the foot but never touches the ground?
42 – What is in the house and in soccer?
43 – What is it that you cut at will and always stay the same size?
44 – What is it that the larger, the less you see?





  • pineapple
  • coffee
  • the letter“y”
  • the sun
  • the knees
  • paper
  • hat
  • the tongue
  • the day
  • nail
  • street
  • kangaroo
  • vulture
  • sloth
  • shirt
  • coconut
  • when seen in the mirror
  • kettle
  • louse
  • the letter “m”
  • the book
  • sleep
  • the sidewalk
  • the boot
  • there's a heel following us
  • banana tree
  • Grenada (Spain)
  • sieve
  • bread
  • the vowels “oa”
  • the bat
  • the iron fist
  • the future
  • the fork
  • the worm
  • the glasses
  • kite
  • pepper
  • secret
  • stove
  • stirrup
  • cup
  • a deck of cards
  • distance


Recife, July 17, 2012.


sources consulted

IRANI, Meire. Adivinhas. Anuário do Folclore, Olímpia, SP, ano 10, n. 13, [s. p.], ago. 1983.

OLIVEIRA, Anali de. Ginástica para a inteligência. Anuário do Folclore, Olímpia, SP, ano 22, n. 25, p. 85-87, ago. 1995.

OLIVEIRA, Rogério de. Adivinhe, se puder. Anuário do Folclore, Olímpia, SP, ano 15, n. 18, p. 66-69, ago. 1988.

OLIVEIRA, Rogério de. Quanto mais se vive, mais se aprende. Anuário do Folclore, Olímpia, SP, ano 18, n. 21, p. 85-86, ago. 1991.

SOUTO MAIOR, Mário (Org.). O grande livro das adivinhações. Belo Horizonte: Leitura, 2002. 

how to quote this text

GASPAR, Lúcia (Org.). Riddles: A collection. In: PESQUISA Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2012. Available from: Access on: dia mês ano. (Ex.: 6 ago. 2020.)