I recently heard the riddle that Homer, reportedly, died trying to solve. Homer approaches some fisherman and they say to him, "What we caught, we threw away, what we didn't catch, we kept. I know the answer is [Lice] as the book I found this in tells the answer. I just don't understand the logic to why lice makes sense. Am I missing something obvious?



"what we caught we threw away"
If you catch the lice in your hair, you throw them away.

"what we didn't catch, we kept"
if you don't manage to catch them, you keep them.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. Catching lice is rather unusually though? $\endgroup$ – R3D Nov 2 '16 at 1:55
  • $\begingroup$ I was not quite satisfied with the answer myself, but after searching on the web, it seems to be the answer. It's quite a famous(ish) riddle. You can search on Google about the answer. $\endgroup$ – stack reader Nov 2 '16 at 2:02
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, it's somewhat disappointing answer to an interesting situation. $\endgroup$ – R3D Nov 2 '16 at 2:04

I think 'catch' sort of has multiple meanings here, which might be throwing you off. The first is that in English you 'catch' lice from someone else (like catching the flu), but the second is 'catching' each individual louse and picking it out of your hair. The ones you 'catch' you throw away, and the ones that you fail to catch, you 'keep', as in, they stay in your hair.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, that's where I was having difficulty. The first meaning doesn't apply here. $\endgroup$ – R3D Nov 2 '16 at 1:59

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