cover Please do NOT post your answer, but do say if you think you have solved the puzzle and how long it took. Solution on Monday.

There are two men in a pub.  Two women walk in, and both men say ‘Here is my wife and daughter’.  If the men have not married the same woman and the women aren’t pregnant, how can this be true?
This puzzle comes from the wonderful Skepitcal Intelligencer Magazine.
I have produced an ebook containing 101 of the previous Friday Puzzles! It is called PUZZLED and is available for the Kindle (UK here and USA here) and on the iBookstore (UK here in the USA here). You can try 101 of the puzzles for free here.

36 comments

    1. Yes.
      My first cousin helped me solve it before we got out of bed and I took her to school this morning.

  1. Two or three minutes. Good puzzle. And thanks for introducing me to Skeptical Intelligencer Magazine. I’d never heard of it before today.

  2. I can think of a couple of solutions to this, but most of them are frowned upon in western society… Some aren’t legal in most countries…!

  3. Well, there’s a perfectly rational explanation which does not involved any illegalities. However, I can quite imagine that they’ll all end up on the Jeremy Kyle show one day…

  4. My reaction was that this isn’t even a problem, although it would clearly require an unlikely sequence of events. No Norfolkian tendencies are required. Nor anything the Catholic church would disapprove of. Indeed anyone familiar with 19th century novels and the marriage habits there recorded can see that they wouldn’t even bat an eyelid.
    Not quite the same thing, nor quite so unlikely, but I do know two people who are each married to the other’s sibling.

  5. My reaction was that this isn’t even a problem, although it would clearly require an unlikely sequence of events. No Norfolkian tendencies are required. Nor anything the Catholic church would disapprove of. Indeed anyone familiar with 19th century novels and the marriage habits there recorded can see that they wouldn’t even bat an eyelid.
    Not quite the same thing, nor quite so unlikely, but I do know two people who are each married to the other’s sibling.

  6. My reaction was that this isn’t even a problem, although it would clearly require an unlikely sequence of events. No Norfolkian tendencies are required. Nor anything the Catholic church would disapprove of. Indeed anyone familiar with 19th century novels and the marriage habits there recorded can see that they wouldn’t even bat an eyelid.
    Not quite the same thing, nor quite so unlikely, but I do know two people who are each married to the other’s sibling..

  7. Satisfying puzzle: didn’t solve it immediately but the eureka moment arrived within a minute or two via several unsatisfactory answers. I genuinely admire Richard for saving us from too many caveats. He seems to appreciate that those who argue for technically correct but different and less pleasing answers know deep down that they’re wrong, so why absolutely iron out all ambiguities or loopholes and spoil the flow of the question?

  8. how can this be true? The story or their statements? If the story, it’s trivial. I can say the same thing about any women, regardless of whether or not I’ve ever met them in my life. One is rarely under oath in a pub. If the statements, it took me about a minute to figure out how they could be true, and it would be legal pretty much everywhere I’m pretty sure,though I’m not a lawyer so any stonings resulting from taking this comment as legal advise is purely on your own head

    1. Adoption isn’t necessary to a solution. Plenty of other ways to have a wife who isn’t your daughter’s mother.

  9. Since I’m primed to look for tricks and ambiguities in these, I’d like to point out one defect in the question “how can this be true?”.
    Does ‘this’ refer to what the men say – i.e. how can it be true that the wife and daughter of each of them just entered – or does it refer to the story? If the latter, there’s a very easy answer – one or both men were mistaken! (Nonetheless, it is true that they said what they did.)
    I think I have the ‘real’ answer, but it can be hard to know whether one’s answer will be the same as Richard’s.

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