The annoying -GRY riddle.
By now, most of you have seen the seemingly-perplexing riddle that's been going around on various radio shows, copiers and fax machines, and of course, every listserv in existence. The riddle seems to have perplexed just about everyone. Many people have attempted to be helpful and have posted lengthy explanations, many of which, it seemed, were more incomprehensible than the original riddle. (I hope *this* explanation is not one of them.)
So, why then does this riddle continue to mystify even the
Simple! It's because the riddle itself is almost always stated INCORRECTLY!
That's right. The way the riddle is most often told, there IS no answer!
Don't believe me? Let's start by reading the riddle as it is usually told. Here goes:
There are three words in the English language that end
Two are HUNGRY and ANGRY. The third ONE everyONE uses every day and knows what it stands for.
If you listened carefully, I already told you what the word is.
Sound familiar? I'll bet that YOU heard the riddle worded something like that, right? And if that's how you heard it, no wonder you've been wracking your brain trying to find the answer.
But you know what? There IS no correct answer! This riddle or a version of it, has been around for at least 20 years. In the ORIGINAL format (as you'll soon see), it makes sense and is a true riddle in the sense that, once you find the answer, you slap your forehead and go "Of course!" So, what IS the correct version, you ask? Be patient, because first we have to consider the nature of riddles.
By definition, they are mind-teasers that use word tricks. A riddle is not a trivia question for which you can go to a reference book and look up an answer. In a true riddle, there's always some sneaky little trick that makes such a straight answer impossible. So to find the sneaky little trick in this -GRY puzzler, think of the way magic is performed. The magician does something to divert your attention away from what he is actually up to. If you watch very closely when all those scarves are being waved about, you realize that much of the action on stage is simply a technique to confuse or befuddle you so that you will not catch on to the magician's sly movements. That lovely assistant who parades around in high heels and sequins is there primarily to keep you distracted so you won't figure out the trick. (Hey, it works on ME!)
Now back to the riddle. Here is the riddle in its original form:
Think of words ending in -GRY. Angry and hungry are
two of them.
There are only three words in the English language. What is the third word?
The word is something that everyone uses every day. If you have listened
carefully, I have already told you what it is.
In its proper, original form, the first two sentences have absolutely nothing to do with the question:
Think of words ending in -GRY. Angry and hungry are two of them.
Ignore those two sentences. They are there only to throw you off course. (And it worked, didn't it?) What's left is the actual riddle itself:
There are only three words in the English language. What is the third word? The word is something that everyone uses every day. If you have listened carefully, I have already told you what it is.
The key is the phrase "the English language." In this three-word phrase, the third word is simply the word "language." Get it? "Language" is definitely something that "everyone uses every day"! Without that quirky little twist, the puzzle would be just another trivia question, not a riddle.
I have no idea why some of the riddles have the word ONE in them in capitals, just another way of throwing you off?
A final note: There are, or have been in the past, a number of English words ending in -GRY, for example, "mawgry," and "iggry" and even an obscure noun, "gry," that means a small unit of measure. Many people *thought* they had solved this puzzle when they found one of these words in old dictionary or by scouring the Internet. But c'mon, folks, when's the last time you used a word like "gry" in everyday conversation? The thing about riddles is, you must follow them to the letter or they just don't work. This one got messed up somewhere along the way and has become somewhat of a cruel hoax (and perhaps has even become an "urban legend")
Now you can insult the fools who send you this "riddle", they obviously don't know the answer!
From Jerry Taylor, Greece NY School district