coverOn Friday I set this puzzle….

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.
If you have not tried to solve it, have a go now.  For everyone else the answer is after the break.
The two men are widowers who each married the daughter of the other.
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.


  1. I had another solution, though it requires one to consider step- and -in-laws as legitimate daughters and mothers. Basically, one man is the father of the other man, and a widower. One woman is the mother of the other woman, and a widow. The father marries the daughter and the son marries the widow. This meets the requirements of the puzzle, and it also manages to make everyone involved their own grandparent.

    1. In the movie, “The Stupids”. Tom Arnold sings a delightful little ditty entitled,”I’m My Own Grandpa”

  2. The two men don’t need to be widowers. Either, or both could be divorcees. For that matter, they may not even have married the mother of their daughter. In fact I’d argue that in with current social circumstances and extended life spans that some combination of divorces and/or illegitimate births is more likely than the double widowerhood explanation, although I’d grant that if the scenario was set in times past with more conservative social outlooks and worse health care then Richards version would be the more likely.

    Of course all are functionally equivalent explanations.

    1. so does the solution set encompass each man being currently married either to his own or to the other’s daughter?

  3. I didn’t really consider status of the mother to be all that relevant. I don’t think they need to be widowers, or divorcees or anything. Simply that they married each others’ daughters. Sure, they must have had those daughters somehow, but it’s not really relevant to the puzzle is it? It just adds complication to the solution.

    1. The daughters are the misleading bit, as others have suggested above. They could be the daughters of women not mentioned. Each man happens to have married one of them. A bit unlikely, I grant you, but…

    1. Ta
      I contacted the Micturation Promulgation Council about this.
      Their comment was “Thank you for using piss. We realise that other bodily fluids are available.”
      Toodle pip

  4. I rather like the solution (equally valid!) that someone mentioned somewhere to this puzzle: There is a female musical duo with the (unusual, but many of them are) name My Wife And Daughter, and the 2 members of this group just walked in through the door. Hence the comments from the 2 men . . . 🙂

  5. Another solution is that they have married their own daugters, a bit more creepie perhaps but still logicaly correct.Even if it’s not legal in most parts of the world.

    1. Are there any places in the modern world where it’s legal to marry your own daughter? It may have happened in the ancient past (especially among royal families), but I sincerely doubt that any country with codified laws allows it.

  6. It’s a complete coincidence. There are six people already in the pub: two families, each consisting of husband, wife and daughter. Two more women walk in, and are introduced by the two husbands, each of whom get to say “Here is my wife and daughter”. They’re talking *to* the new arrivals (or each other), rather than about the new arrivals.

  7. It’s a complete coincidence. There are six people already in the pub: two families, each consisting of husband, wife and daughter. Two more women walk in, and are introduced by the two husbands, each of whom get to say “Here is my wife and daughter”. They’re talking *to* the new arrivals (or each other), rather than about the new arrivals.

  8. The only way that this is a puzzle is if it would never occur to you that you might not be married to the mother of your child. I can understand that when this puzzle was first presented this was probably an assumption that it was considered “proper” to make. The fact that the “solution” feels it is necessary to point out the the previous wives actually died reinforces this.

    In the modern world, though, it’s barely even a puzzle. Call the men Alan and Barry, and the women Chloe and Daisy. Alan is Chloe’s husband and Daisy’s dad. Barry is Daisy’s husband and Chloe’s dad. Where’s the puzzle?

    These days it may be more of a puzzle to start with the fact that each one can call the other both his father-in-law and his son-in-law, or that the women are each others’ stepmothers and stepdaughters.

  9. After a lot of thinking and kerfuffling, on Friday I worked out this solution:

    1. Albert married Beatrice
    2. Charles married Doris
    3. Albert & Beatrice had a daughter Elizabeth
    4. Charles & Doris had a daughter Frances
    5. Beatrice & Doris died
    6. Charles married Elizabeth
    7. Albert married Frances
    Elizabeth was daughter of Albert & wife of Charles
    Frances was daughter of Charles & wife of Albert

    … but now I realise that Richard’s answer is the same thing but stated much more concisely. In other words, it’s less complicated than I thought.

  10. Along the same line as Infophile stated at the top, this old classic by Ray Stevens should help to make it clear… or maybe not!

  11. Here in ‘merica, a pregnant woman occasionally counts as two people, e.g. if she’s the victim of a crime that results in her death, the perp gets two counts of murder/manslaughter. Hence, I just assumed both women were pregnant, especially because of the “Here is…” wording.

    1. I had an answer but thought it was a bit of a cheat. The two 2 men are each married to the 2 women. The women and mother and daughter. The daughter is also pushing a pram with her daughter. The grand daughter technically did not “walk” into the pub.

  12. Some people are making very heavy weather of this. The wording of the question basically needs no explanation, and to the extent one explains it at all, it is as Richard has it. Two men cannot be married to the same woman, therefor each is married to the daughter of the other. To avoid consanguinity (being married to your own grand-daughter), that requires each to have a previous wife who is the mother of the daughter.

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