What Is So Fragile That When You Say Its Name, You Break it?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Jul 15, 2020 10:36:10 AM ET
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The question, “What is so fragile that when you say its name it breaks?” is a riddle. A riddle is defined as being a statement, question or phrase that has a double or hidden meaning. It is posed as a puzzle or game that requires solving. Riddles are known to make a person think outside of the realm of normal. The answer to this specific riddle is silence. The factor in this question is the word “say.”


History of the Riddle

There are two ways in which riddles can be posed. The first kind is a metaphorically expressed or enigma riddle. The second kind is a conundrum or tricky problem that most often includes a pun. The term “riddle” gets its origin from the word “read.” This is an old English word that is defined as meaning “interpret” or “guess.” While the word hasn’t changed much, it can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia around 2350 B.C.

Riddles are often seen in ancient and medieval literature. They had two purposes. The first was to create suspense. Their second purpose was to pass on cultural and traditions. For these reasons, riddles were often used for educational purposes. With the use of a single word, the reader would find the many different meanings it could have.

Types of Riddles

Riddles are more popular today than ever before. They are used commonly for sharpening mental alertness and for creating fun, interactive entertainment. There are many different types of riddles in use. Depending on their intention determines the type of riddle you will encounter. Here are some examples of more prominent riddles you will find.

Poems or Prose Riddles

Poetic riddles are used for entertaining both children and adults. These types of riddles often have a terse, visual and rhythmic foundation. When first used in the Dark Ages, poetic riddles were often sung or chanted. 


Here are some examples:

Riddle: I drink the blood of the Earth, and trees fear my roar. Yet a man may hold me in his hand. What am I?

Answer: A chainsaw.

Riddle: The moon is my father, the sea my mother; I have million brothers, I die when I reach land. What am I?

Answer: A wave on the ocean.

Anagram Riddles

Anagram riddles are riddles that contain two answers that are spelled differently but contain the same letters just in a different order. This type of riddle is often used for the purpose of teaching children.


Some examples of anagram riddles include:

Riddle: Something used to catch fish / A number.

Answer: Net / Ten

Riddle: Used to water plants / Something you put on your foot.

Answer: hose / shoe

Crossword Riddles

Crossword riddles are one of the newer types of riddles that have emerged. In a crossword riddle, there are several questions that are asked. The answers to the questions cross through each other in a grid-like pattern. This type of riddle was first created by Arthur Wynne in 1913.