I've heard this rhyming riddle recently, and I just can't work it out. What am I thinking of?

My first is in cow, but not in pat.
My second in mouse, yet not in rat.
My third is in rhythm, but not in rhyme.
My whole is a waste of all your time.

Clue: This has now been answered, but here's a clue, in case you're struggling...

The answer is hiding in plain sight.

  • $\begingroup$ Logician's answer is exactly how I would have approached it, but it still doesn't make much sense. Are you sure you didn't mishear some of it? $\endgroup$ – David K Aug 5 '15 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ There was a little fib there, I wasn't sure how to introduce a riddle so I told a tale of being told the riddle. I wrote this, and I'm sure it's all there. $\endgroup$ – AJFaraday Aug 5 '15 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, thanks. Others have done that before, so I should have realized :) $\endgroup$ – David K Aug 5 '15 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ It could, perhaps, have gone without that pre-amble, I might just go right into the contents in future. $\endgroup$ – AJFaraday Aug 5 '15 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because there is no answer. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Aug 6 '15 at 16:39

This might be a bit out there but, perhaps...

...there is no answer. The last line says "My whole is a waste of all your time." What if it refers the the riddle as a whole? There's no solution, therefore it's a waste of your time.

On the flip side, this may not be the case given the use of the word

"all". It's not a waste of all your time, just some of it.

  • $\begingroup$ That's it! :-) Just FYI I felt that the word 'all' in that context helped the little poem to scan (basically it sounds better, to me). $\endgroup$ – AJFaraday Aug 5 '15 at 15:45
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    $\begingroup$ wow, i feel like i accomplished something! i found a fitting answer to an unanswerable riddle! $\endgroup$ – JLee Aug 5 '15 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee I was sure this wasn't correct, we both feel like that! $\endgroup$ – Prinsig Aug 5 '15 at 15:51

Is it perhaps

waste of time?

Going through each of the clues, one possible combination of letters would be

'WOT'. The clues could be referring to the first letters of each word - for example, "my second" indicating what letter the second word starts with.

In this way, the letters

'WOT' stand for something that is a waste of all your time - and you can't get much more exact than "waste of time".

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    $\begingroup$ I choose this as the correct answer, in my mind. $\endgroup$ – Bailey M Aug 5 '15 at 17:29

Maybe it is


Take the "co" from cow, the "o" from mouse, and the "t" from rhythm.

Google says coot, informally, means "a foolish or eccentric person, typically an old man," so it's no stretch to say that a foolish person could be "a waste of all your time."

However, I was hoping that the answer involved taking the "th" from rhythm, as Avigrail pointed out in his comment.


Initial thoughts/partial answer:

It looks like each 'part' describes a letter that appears in the first word but not the second.

This doesn't help us much until 'rhythm/rhyme':

the letter 't' is the only one that appears only in rhythm, so the third letter of the solution is t

The words that appear with that information are:

cut, wet, cot, out

The last line

gives us the definition of the solution. Not sure yet whether the whole thing is only 3 letters long or if we need to use the first three letters at the start of a word - if the latter, the first three don't necessarily need to form a word themselves

  • $\begingroup$ what about the e in rhyme? $\endgroup$ – kl78 Aug 5 '15 at 9:27
  • $\begingroup$ @kl78 'but not in rhyme' - we only want the letters that appear in rhythm $\endgroup$ – LogicianWithAHat Aug 5 '15 at 9:41
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    $\begingroup$ @LogicianWithAHat there is also a second "h" you dropped. It might be possible that the 3rd line actually gives you "th". $\endgroup$ – Avigrail Aug 5 '15 at 11:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Avigrail It's possible - I was working under the assumption that any number of 'h's would be ruled out by dint of there being one in 'rhyme' $\endgroup$ – LogicianWithAHat Aug 5 '15 at 12:22

I think the answer is literally

Cut Somehow


My first is in cow, but not in pat.

Taking the whole COW

My second in mouse, yet not in rat.

and a MOUSE

My third is in rhythm, but not in rhyme.

and TH

My whole is a waste of all your time.

Mixing it all together gives COWMOUSETH

of all the different ones selected this...

means the riddle is CUT SOMEHOW and therefore waste of time.


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