Top Lateral Thinking Puzzles That Will Put Your Brain to the Test
Are you ready for the ultimate brain challenge?
Lateral puzzles are some of the most complex because they don't have a straight answer.
Spending time on a thinking puzzle that tests your ability to think laterally boosts your
creativity and encourages you to think outside the box. They're also fun to play alone or
with friends, so you can pull them out anytime.
Let's explore lateral thinking and puzzle thinking games you can try right now.
What is Lateral Thinking?
There are two ways to think: laterally and vertically. Lateral thinking differs entirely
from vertical thinking because it involves solving problems with an indirect but creative
approach. Vertical thinking involves a linear, step-by-step problem-solving process.
What separates veteran thinking and lateral thinking questions is there's usually more to
the game than a simple right or wrong answer. Of course, these are not open-ended
questions with no correct answer, but there may be more than one correct answer.
Someone who thinks laterally can come up with multiple creative responses to a single
question. The whole point of lateral thinking puzzles is to use your creativity to develop
The key to a lateral thinking riddle is to read the scenario, find contextual clues, and
then come up with your answer. Sometimes, the answer is staring you right in the face.
More complex lateral thinking riddles may require you to dig deeper into the question
and even the individual words.
If it sounds a little confusing, it's easier than you might think in practice. That's why
we've pulled together several puzzles complete with answers to get you started.
Both vertical and lateral thinking skills are helpful in every aspect of life. It's why you
can find countless logic puzzles at Arkadium. Ranging from Sudoku to crosswords, our
games are available to keep your brain sharp while having fun simultaneously.
15 Challenging Lateral Thinking Puzzles
Do you consider yourself a creative thinker? Or do you struggle with critical thinking?
If this is your first time trying to solve a critical thinking riddle, it's easy to get
frustrated, especially when it's super complex. Start small and work your way up to give
your brain a real workout.
Let’s run through some great lateral thinking puzzles with answers you can try right
now to determine how creative your thinking is.
1. High-Rise Elevator
Question – A woman lives on the 30th floor of a high-rise apartment building. She
hates taking the stairs. When leaving her home, she takes the elevator down to the
lobby. When she returns, she takes the elevator to the 20th floor and walks up the
remaining ten floors, except on rainy days.
Why does the woman walk up the last ten floors every day except rainy days if she hates
taking the stairs?
Answer – The woman is too small to reach the button for the 30th floor. She can only
reach the button for the 20th floor. On rainy days, she’s carrying an umbrella, enabling
her to hit the button for the 30th floor.
2. Broken Down and Bankrupt
Question – A man is pushing his car to reach a hotel. When he arrives at the hotel, he
discovers to his dismay, that he is now bankrupt. How did this happen?
Answer – The man was playing Monopoly with his friends. His piece was the car, and
he landed on the space with a hotel built on it. He didn't have enough money to pay the
bill, so he was declared bankrupt.
3. Weight Loss Miracle
Question – A woman walks into a room and presses a button. She loses 20 pounds in
only a few seconds. How did she manage to lose the 20 pounds?
Answer – The woman entered an elevator, descending to a lower floor. The
acceleration of the elevator downwards meant she temporarily lost weight. After leaving
the elevator, she gained the 20 pounds back.
4. Writing Habits
Question – A woman writes two words on 60 separate sheets of paper every two
weeks. Why does the woman have this strange habit?
Answer – The woman runs a business of 60 employees and must sign her name on
every individual paycheck every two weeks so she can pay her employees.
5. Giant Metal Tube
Question – A husband and wife enter a giant metal tube, and the woman is terrified.
She holds her husband’s hand to get through the ordeal. A few hours later, they both
leave the giant metal tube, and nothing has happened to them. What transpired?
Answer – The woman was on an airplane and terrified of flying. Her husband is not
scared of flying and held her hand throughout the experience to keep her calm. After
landing, the woman feels fine again.
6. One Sunday Afternoon
Question – A woman sees a bear in the distance one Sunday afternoon. Instead of
being afraid of the bear, the woman runs toward it in excitement. Why wasn't the
woman afraid of the bear?
Answer – The woman was visiting the local zoo and loves bears.
7. Lawn Debris
Question – A man looks out of his living room window and spots six pieces of coal, a
scarf, and a carrot lying on his lawn. Nobody placed them there, and the man is not
surprised to see the items on his lawn. Why would these items be sitting there?
Answer – The man is looking at a snowman he built in the yard. The snow has since
melted, leaving the coal, carrot, and scarf lying on the lawn.
8. The Room
Question – A man, a woman, and a child are in a room together. The woman and the
child walk out. The room is now empty. What happened to the man?
Answer – The man was in a wheelchair and was wheeled out by the woman.
9. Shopping Trip
Question – A man is filling a shopping cart with items at the grocery store. The man
leaves the store without paying for any items, but nobody attempts to stop him, and
nobody calls the police. Why did nobody take any interest in the man leaving the
grocery store with goods he didn't pay for?
Answer – The man worked at the grocery store and took the items to the dumpster
behind the building.
10. A Man Walks Into a Bar
Question – A man walked into his local bar and asked the bartender for a glass of
water. The bartender responds by pulling out a shotgun and pointing it at the man. The
man thanked the bartender and left. Why did the bartender point a shotgun at him?
Answer – The man had hiccups, and the bartender scared the hiccups out of him with
his shotgun. The man then thanked him and went about his business.
11. Start a Fire
Question – A man is stuck in a dark room. He has one match he can use to light the
fireplace, a candle, or an oil lamp. What should the man light first?
Answer – The match because it's impossible to light the oil lamp, the fireplace, or the
candle without first lighting the match.
12. Bus Driver
Question – You are driving a bus, and the bus is empty at the start of the route. Three
people get on at the first stop. Nine people get on the bus at the second stop, and two
get off. Two people get off at the next stop, and another four get on. What is the bus
driver's favorite TV show?
Answer – You are the bus driver, so what is your favorite TV show?
13. Boat Ladder
Question – You have a boat with a ten-foot ladder. It hangs from the side of the boat,
leaving three feet of the ladder submerged under the water. The tide has risen five feet,
so how much of your ladder is now underwater?
Answer – Three feet because when the tide rises, so does the boat.
14. A Dozen Eggs
Question – You open a carton of eggs to find a dozen in the carton. Twelve people take
one egg, but there is still a single egg in the carton. How is this possible?
Answer – The last person takes both the egg and the carton, leaving the egg inside.
15. Twin Sons
Question – A woman gives birth to two sons. Both sons were born at the same hour on
the same day in the same year. Yet the two sons are not twins. Why?
Answer – The woman gave birth to triplets. The third child was a girl.
What are the Benefits of Lateral Thinking Riddles?
Some people are more adept at thinking laterally, while others are more vertical. Now
that you've finished running through those 15 lateral thinking puzzles with answers, you
should better understand where you sit.
Not only are lateral thinking puzzles fun, but they also benefit your brain in exciting
ways. The key to succeeding with situation puzzles, or any critical thinking riddle, is to
harness a creative and indirect thought process.
Lateral thinkers are the artists and innovators of our society. These puzzles stimulate
your creativity. They help you think outside the box, which is valuable in all areas of
Brainstorming, drawing, and even figuring out how to tackle a DIY project are all
helped by being able to think laterally.
Lateral Thinking Puzzles With Answers for Kids
Young thinkers can benefit from tackling lateral thinking puzzles early in their
development. Make learning fun for your kids with some puzzles designed for the
younger members of your family.
1. Birthday Cake
Question – It’s your birthday, and you have invited eight friends. How can you divide
your birthday cake into eight equal-sized pieces by making three cuts?
Answer – Use two cuts to cut the cake into four pieces. Use the third cut to cut the
cake horizontally in half; you will have eight pieces.
2. The Commotion
Question – Several voices are heard in a room. There appears to be some commotion,
but when someone checks to asses what's happening, only one person is sitting in the
room quietly. The person is not insane. Where did the commotion come from?
Answer – The commotion was coming from the TV the person was watching.
3. The Mysterious Package
Question – A man is found dead in a field. Next to him, there is a package that no one
has opened. There's no other human or animal in the field. How could this man have
Answer – The man jumped from a plane, but the parachute failed to open. The
unopened package is the parachute.
4. Sunny Driving
Question – A man is driving his car on a sunny day. It suddenly starts to rain heavily.
The flood lasts just a few minutes before a heavy wind picks up. It becomes so windy
that the man's car starts to shake. A few minutes later, the wind drops away, and the
man drives home in the sun. What happened with the weather?
Answer – The weather is fine. It was always sunny. The man drove through an
automatic car wash.
5. A Quick Choke
Question – A man is sitting alone in a dark room when he suddenly stops breathing
and cannot speak. A few seconds later, he resumes breathing. What happened?
Answer – The man was watching a movie and choked on an ice cube. The ice quickly
melted in his throat, allowing his breathing to return to normal.
6. The Circle of Life
Question – John was born in 1957 and died in 1956. He was 82 when he died. How is
Answer – John was born at the hospital in room 1957. He died at the same hospital in
room 1956 at 82.
7. Light Up a Room
Question – You are standing in front of three light switches. All the switches are in the
off position. You already know that each switch is connected to a light in the next room,
but the door is closed, and you can't see into the other room.
You can do anything you want with the switches, but when you walk into the next
room, you need to know which switch is connected to which bulb. How can you do
Answer – Turn on the first switch and wait for five minutes. Turn off the first switch.
Turn the second switch on and leave it on. When you enter the room, the light that is
switched on will be connected to the second switch. The first switch will be connected to the bulb that is still hot. The cold bulb was never turned on, meaning it's connected
to the third switch.
Enjoy the Best Brain Games Online with Arkadium
Arkadium is your one-stop shop for fun games designed to boost your brain and keep
you entertained for a few hours.
We’re constantly adding new games to improve your lateral and vertical thinking,
challenging our users in new ways. For the latest lateral thinking puzzles and free
hidden object games, browse Arkadium now!