Puzzles and Problems, mostly punning

From A Winter Evening Entertainments; or, Curious Mathematical and Philosophical Problems, etc. (Jasper Wiseman, Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd 1820.) Most of these puzzles have punning answers that might nowadays elicit groans.. Almost all are present in many other books and magazines of the time, it is doubtful that the author made up any of them. Wise man.


What step must I take to remove the letter A from the alphabet?

By B heading it.

If I buy four oranges for a penny, and give one of them away, why am I like a telescope?

Because I make a far-thing present.

Which of the cardinal virtues will water be when just frozen?


Why is spectator like a bee-hive?

Because he is a be-holder.

Why is an axe like coffee?

Because it must be ground, before it can be used.

Why is a handsome woman like bread?

Because she is often toasted.

Everything has what a pudding has, what has a pudding?

It has a name.

What is the most useful employment of life?

To learn to die well.

What is that which a coach cannot move without, and yet is not of the least use to it?


A lady asked a gentleman, how old he was? He replied, "What you do in everything."

X L.

When may a man be said to be over head and ears in debt?

When he has not paid for his wig.

In what month do ladies talk least?


Why is an empty room like a room full of company?

Because there is not a single person in it.

Why is a gardener the most extraordinary man in the world?

Because no man has more business upon earth, and he always chooses good grounds for what he does. He commands his thyme, he is master of the mint, and fingers penny-royal; e raises celery every year, and meets with more boughs than a minister of state. He makes raking his business more than his diversion; and distempers fatal to others never hurt him; he walks the better for the gravel, and thrives most in consumption. He can boast of more laurels, than the great Nelson; but his greatest pride, and the world's greatest envy is, that he can have yew when he pleases.

One thought on “Puzzles and Problems, mostly punning

  1. R.M.Healey

    I offer this punning enigma of the 1820s.
    Q. Why need you ever go hungry in the desert ?
    A. Because of all the sand which is there
    Q. How came all the sandwiches there ?
    A. God sent Ham and his descendants mustererd and bred


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