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10 Lateral Thinking Problems

Have a go at solving them

Lateral thinking problems are different to usual problems in that they require a sense of thinking outside the box. In some ways it's as much about what information isn't included in the question as what is. Here you will find what I think are ten of the best lateral thinking problems.


Grab a pen and paper and scroll down trying to answer each one as you go. Then have a look at the answers and let us know how many you got correct in the comment box at the bottom. Good luck!

Lateral Thinking Problems

Lateral Thinking Problem Number 1

Police broke into a house and found the owner slumped dead in a chair with a bullet hole in his head. On the floor there is a gun and on the table a cassette recorder. When an officer pushed play on the cassette recorder they heard the message "I cannot go on any longer and have decided to commit suicide" followed by the sound of a gunshot. The police immediately started a murder investigation. Why?

Lateral Thinking Problem Number 2

After passing her driving test, Emma was on her way home feeling extremely pleased with herself and not concentrating on where she was going. She went the wrong way up a one way street and straight over a zebra crossing. Her driving examiner and a police officer saw her but didn't stop her or say anything. Why?

Lateral Thinking Problem Number 3

Five men were travelling along a lane when it started to rain. Four of the men quickened their step and got wet. The fifth man did not quicken his step but stayed dry. He did not have an umbrella or hat. How can this be?

Lateral Thinking Problem Number 4

A woman was being chased through the jungle by a tribe of cannibals. She has two gold bars in her possession. She approaches a rope bridge which is over a deep ravine that she needs to cross to make her escape. She is aware the rope bridge can only support a total weight of 150lbs. She weighs 130lbs. Each gold bar weighs 12lbs each. She doesn't have time to take them across one at a time and it's too far to throw them. She does not remove any item of clothing and the cannibals are getting closer. How did she escape with both gold bars?

Lateral Thinking Problem Number 5

A woman stops her car opposite a hotel and immediately knew that she was bankrupt. How?

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Lateral Thinking Problem Number 6

A man stood looking through the window on the 50th floor of an office tower block. He was suddenly overwhelmed by an irrational impulse. He yanked the window open and jumped through it. Although it was a sheer drop to the bottom he escaped unhurt. He didn't land on anything soft or use a parachute. How can this be?

Lateral Thinking Problem Number 7

A woman was found guilty at her trial. The king decided that the woman would choose her own fate by by making a single statement. If the statement were true, the woman would be burnt at the stake. If the statement were false, the woman would be thrown out to sea. What did the clever woman say so that the king had no choice but to set her free?

Lateral Thinking Problem Number 8

A traveller set out on a journey and stopped only when he had returned to his starting point. During that journey, his head travelled 36 feet further that his feet, yet his feet remained attached to his body. What is the explanation for this?

Lateral Thinking Problem Number 9

There is a dead man in the middle of a field. Next to his body is an unopened package. No one else is around and nobody put him there so how did he die?

Lateral Thinking Problem Number 10

The king of Nordium was an eccentric that decided nobody was allowed to leave his kingdom. Also the entry of any foreigners was to be tightly controlled. The border between Nordium and the neighbouring kingdom Sordium was a single footbridge spanning a deep gorge. A guard was posted by the bridge and told to shoot anyone that he saw trying to escape across the bridge to Sordium. The guard was a sharpshooter who never missed. Also anyone trying to come from Sordium to enter the kingdom of Nordium had to have the proper paper work or they would be sent back. The guard sat in his hut on the side of Nordium and came out to look every five minutes. It takes a minimum of 8 minutes to get across the bridge and there is no place to hide once on the bride. How did a woman manage to escape across the bridge without having to harm or incapacitate the guard?

Lateral Thinking Puzzle Books

Lateral Thinking Answers


If you still want to have a go at testing yourself then don't scroll down any further. If you've tried answering the lateral thinking problems above see how you did...

Answer 1

They didn't have to rewind the tape so somebody else must have.

Answer 2

She was walking.

Answer 3

The four man were pallbearers, carrying the fifth in a coffin.

Answer 4

She juggles them across.

Answer 5

she was playing monopoly.

Answer 6

The man is a window cleaner who started on the outside of the building and jumped into it.

Answer 7

She said "I will be thrown out to sea". If the king threw her out to sea then that would have made the statement true, so she should have been burnt instead. But if the king burnt her at the stake, then the statement would have been false. The king had no alternative but to let her go.

Answer 8

The journey was around the world. The man's head was six feet from the ground so the radius of the circle travelled by his head is six feet greater than the circle traveled by his feet. The difference in the circumferences of the circles is 2 (pi) x 6 = 36

Answer 9

The man was parachuting and the package is his unopened parachute.

Answer 10

When the guard was entered his hut the woman started walking across the bridge. She walked for almost five minutes then turned around and started walking back towards Nordium. When she reached the guard, she had no papers so he sent her back to Sordium!

If you enjoyed doing them perhaps you'd like to try some more...


selvaa selvaa on March 28, 2015:

nice questions

Lucas on March 31, 2013:

Nice ones

poopoopants on January 04, 2013:

i got 10 out of 10 because they were so easy and im 9

Sam on May 28, 2012:

the answer to problem 4 is imposible due to the laws of physics ( Newton's 2nd en 3d law )

plaingerlaine from Gary, IN on July 15, 2011:

#10 was my favorite!

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