Puzzling Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for those who create, solve, and study puzzles. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

This is an ancient puzzle from an old book that I've never seen anywhere else. Can any of you puzzlers solve it?

If the B MT put:
If the B. putting:
share|improve this question
    
Maybe the wordplay tag? – jpmc26 Jan 6 at 21:29
2  
And I thought this might have to do with the New York City subways. – phoog Jan 6 at 21:52
2  
You missed the second half: Never put more : over a - der You'd be an * it – phoog Jan 6 at 22:11
    
A little google searching suggests that the * line is a much more recent innovation, but the puzzle dates back at least to 1864. Only one of the 1864 hits includes the third line about the - der; the rest have only the two lines given here. But it may also be that the * is original but was considered too course for publication in the 19th century. – phoog Jan 6 at 22:27
    
Include the title and publication date of the book? Might give us some ideas. – user2174 Jan 7 at 3:57
up vote 40 down vote accepted

If the grate be (great B) empty, put coal on (or maybe in?) (colon); if the grate be full stop putting coal in (on?).

share|improve this answer
1  
A game of telephone in the age of the telegram. – Ian MacDonald Jan 6 at 20:55
10  
Ah, UK English riddles. Makes more sense than "If the capital be period, putting coal in". – Todd Wilcox Jan 6 at 21:36
3  
I think one puts coal on a grate, which makes sense, since : is a "colon." – phoog Jan 6 at 21:51
3  
@manshu, where is colon pronounced co-lin? – Holloway Jan 7 at 11:54
3  
@Holloway: I pronounce it that way. It's probably a regional thing. – Deusovi Jan 7 at 12:03

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.