A riddle I came across:

What flies when it's born, lies while it's alive, and runs when it's dead?

What is the answer?


State of one of the four elements.

  • $\begingroup$ Hints are not part of the puzzle - when considering whether a puzzle is specified enough, one should only consider non-hint parts $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Mar 23, 2022 at 14:32

6 Answers 6



a snowflake.


It's crystallized (born) in the atmosphere, and then falls (flies) down.
It lies on the ground for the rest of its existence (life).
When it melts (dies), it runs off as water.


Another alternative:

A river.


It's born from rain, which flies through the air. It lies in a riverbed. It runs into the ocean to die.

Maybe a bit of a stretch.


Lateral-thinking alternative:-

The hornet moth or any other flying insect which resembles something else.


Flies when it's born - well, it's a flying insect. Lies when it's alive - it's imitating something else, so the "lie" is literally built into its DNA. And runs when it's dead - all dead things rot and ooze. :)

Clearly not the right answer, but it's fun!

  • $\begingroup$ But larvae don't fly! $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2022 at 2:20
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @NickMatteo Depends on whether you consider emerging from the egg or emerging from the chrysalis as "birth". Unfortunately we can't ask a moth what they think. :) $\endgroup$
    – Graham
    Jan 15, 2022 at 12:10

Using similar thinking as some of the other answers,

It can be

A Bubble

A bubble flies when it is born. When it comes to rest on any surfaces it lies there- until some external force (like a playful kid) breaks it and then the water/solution runs--Dead!


Another novelty answer:

A soufflé (!)


When its born (made) it rises like foam into the air (flies).
When its alive (ready and presentable for eating) it sits on a plate (lies)
When it's dead (fails at cooking) it falls down in the baking tray on a gloopy runny mix (runs)


A bit of a different answer...


Flies when it's born:

Two ways you can view this - either misinformation "flies in the face" of facts, or it could be one of a number of quotes, like Jonathan Swift's "Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it...", or Mark Twain's "A lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots". These quotes typically represent the initial spread of misinformation - that is, when it is "born".

Lies while it's alive:

Again, two ways to view it. It could be literal - misinformation is lies, after all. Or it could refer to the tendency of the misinformation to lay dormant, hidden from those who know the truth.

Runs when it's dead:

Once misinformation is challenged and "defeated", it tends to become a different kind of problem - one of politics. People with hidden agendas will use the misinformation as a basis for running in elections, in an effort to gain power by claiming that the truth is being suppressed (when the false claim has just been demonstrated to be false).


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