I'd just finished writing four short 4-line riddles, painstakingly making sure each line was correct, when a wind caught the slips of paper I'd been using to write on and blew them all over the floor. Quickly I picked them up again, but the order of them was lost. I'd written each line of each riddle on a separate slip, so that I could rearrange them if necessary, but now I regretted this decision. Some of the lines were repeated multiple times (I'd tried to be clever by writing overlapping riddles), and I was struggling to remember which lines could be put together into which riddle. Here are all the lines, in alphabetical order and without punctuation:

  1. "A faithful friend"
  2. "Contracted to love"
  3. "I can wave to you"
  4. "I'm bound to you"
  5. "In most of the world"
  6. "Living by nose"
  7. "Through woe or joy"
  8. "Which we may run down"
  9. "Without hands at all"
  10. "You can feel my salt"

Can you reassemble these lines to form four simple 4-line riddles, and solve them?

I'm unsure how hard this challenge is going to be. If it goes unsolved for a while, the first piece of information I'll add is which of the 10 lines are duplicated.

This is the first puzzle of this kind I've made, and I'm unsure how well it's going to work. All feedback welcome.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Too bad the riddles didn't have rhyming patterns :D $\endgroup$ Sep 23 '16 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ Yep, that would have made it too easy :-) $\endgroup$ Sep 23 '16 at 18:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Of course. If it's also within your judgment, can you tell us if the repeated lines are only repeated once? Or can one line potentially be used in all four riddles? $\endgroup$ Sep 23 '16 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ This puzzle is sort of reverse-puzzling and then wants you've done that it goes back to normal puzzling when you have to solve the riddles :P $\endgroup$ Sep 23 '16 at 18:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @KeyboardWielder, smelling your way through life :P $\endgroup$ Sep 23 '16 at 18:58

This was a lot of fun, I think the result might be:


In most of the world
you can feel my salt
I can wave to you
without hands at all


Living by nose
I can wave to you
without hands at all
A faithful friend


Contracted to love
Through woe or joy
I'm bound to you
A faithful friend


Living by nose
Which we may run down
Through woe or joy
You can feel my salt

  • $\begingroup$ Wow, that was quick! I had figured out 1 and 2, and also 3 but I thought the answer was "Heart". Would never have thought of 4! $\endgroup$ Sep 23 '16 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ That really was fast. I'm clearly out of my league. I hadn't even come up with one riddle, only a couple of potential line pairs. $\endgroup$ Sep 23 '16 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ #3 I think it should have "a faithful friend" instead of "in most of the world" $\endgroup$ Sep 23 '16 at 19:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Wow, impressive: I was expecting this one to last a few days. Your four solutions are perfect, although the riddles I'd composed were just slightly different: "I can wave to you" instead of "I'm bound to you" in #2, "A faithful friend" instead of "In most of the world" in #3, and a few small changes in line ordering. Well done! $\endgroup$ Sep 23 '16 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ For the record, 2 and 3 were where I was least confident, I saw Ocean's riddle very quickly, put together the Dog and Spouse tentatively, then saw a great Tears using the words those didn't so thought the total might work. $\endgroup$
    – Sconibulus
    Sep 23 '16 at 19:09

Wrap-up: the making of Reassemble the riddles!

This is not a solution to the puzzle, but provides the puzzle poser’s thoughts on its creation. This type of answer has been approved by the community.

Caution: This post may contain spoilers.

I had these four riddles written down so long ago (at least a year) that it's hard to recall exactly how the idea took shape. But it all started with a riddle composed by Avigrail for the Riddlers' Den (this riddle is now #28 on the site1) which contained the lines

No hands at all
Yet I wave to you.

When I first saw this riddle, I assumed that a "wave" without hands would probably refer to a different sense of the word "wave", so I immediately thought of the sea. But it eventually turned out that this part of the riddle referred to a dog.

This got me thinking about how exactly the same lines and clues could mean different things in the contexts of different riddles. I wondered if I could create a set of lines which could be put together in two different ways to form riddles with totally different solutions. With this in mind, I created the following short riddles with the solutions sea and dog:

  1. A faithful friend,
    With a nose for all.
    I can wave to you,
    Without hands at all.

  2. Most of the world
    Can feel my salt.
    I can wave to you,
    Without hands at all.

Well, now we've got two duplicated lines and four unique ones. How else can we use those four lines which haven't yet been reused? Looking at the first line, "A faithful friend" immediately made me think of a spouse, so I cobbled together the following riddle with the solution spouse, which reuses one of the lines from the 2nd riddle as well:

  1. A faithful friend,
    Contracted to love.
    Most of the world
    Ends up with one.

Then, looking at the "salt" line with salt water still fresh in my mind, I immediately thought of tears. Conveniently, tears are found close to noses, which were mentioned in the 1st riddle. So I cobbled together the following riddle with the solution tears, reusing lines from the 1st and 2nd riddles:

  1. With a nose for all
    Of us to run down.
    Those in woe or joy
    Can feel my salt.

At this point, I walked away from the idea to do something else. The four riddles quoted above remained, unchanged and gathering metaphorical dust, in my repository of puzzle ideas for over a year, because I wasn't really sure what to do with them.

Eventually the 16th Fortnightly Topic Challenge came along. I spent a while pondering what I might be able to contribute to this, as I'd never written a question before (my only encounter with the tag had been by answering one). Since is my top tag and best claim to fame, it was natural for me to wonder if it would be possible to combine these two tags in some way. But how?

I can't remember exactly how my thought process went, but somehow I recalled the line-sharing riddles I'd written way back in 2015 and had the idea of providing a list of just the lines and requiring solvers to reassemble the riddles. I was doubtful at first whether this would really count as , but other puzzlers persuaded me to give it a try. I still needed a few days to work out exactly how to construct the puzzle, as I wasn't sure exactly how much information to provide: should I just list the lines and say "form these into some riddles", or say how many riddles, or say which lines were duplicated? I dithered over it for so long that I posted another question and a few more puzzles first, but eventually Reassemble the riddles! was posted and solved and reached the first page of the Hot Network Questions. For the record, my final version of the four riddles was slightly different both from those above and from Sconibulus's solution:

  1. "A faithful friend,
    Living by nose.
    I can wave to you,
    Without hands at all." = DOG

  2. "In most of the world
    You can feel my salt.
    I can wave to you,
    Without hands at all." = SEA

  3. "A faithful friend,
    Contracted to love.
    Through woe or joy,
    I'm bound to you." = SPOUSE

  4. "Living by nose
    Which we may run down.
    Through woe or joy
    You can feel my salt." = TEARS

Honestly, I'm still not sure whether I got the balance of difficulty right: I was expecting it to last a few days, but it was solved within ten minutes. Whether I made it too easy or Sconibulus is just too clever, I have yet to work out.

1 I'm not sure whether I'm allowed to link to the Riddler's Den here, since it's a site I co-own. I included a link because it seems to be relevant, enabling you to see the original riddle that inspired the puzzle being discussed here, but feel free to edit out the link if you feel it constitutes excessive self-promotion. Please note, however, that this exact same answer was posted on meta and approved by the moderators there.


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