Local Cafe Stumps Internet With Clever Riddle — Can You Figure It Out?

To be fair, when I go for my coffee in the morning, the last thing I generally want is a riddle to figure out. I’m groggy, uncaffeinated, and likely in a bit of a hurry on my way to start work. However, one local cafe’s sign board featured a riddle so confusing, pretty much everyone got involved trying to solve it – even people online who live nowhere near it! Here’s how the Inversnecky Cafe in Aberdeen, Scotland has been perplexing people for years.

  1. A mom named Lacey Read-Cue posted a photo of the sign online. She was totally confused and couldn’t figure out the answer to the riddle, and she hoped the internet might be able to help. Little did she realize that it would flummox even some of the most clever people!
  2. The riddle seems simple on the surface. It reads: “What has 4 letters, sometimes 9 letters, but never has five letters.” It seems like you would be thinking of a word, but why would the number of letters in a word change? “This really screwed with my head,” Lacey captioned the photo. Ours too!
  3. The photo went viral pretty quickly. People began flocking to the comments asking for help figuring out the answer and expressing their own frustrations at not being able to find out themselves. “Someone just comment the answer already. I keep coming back to check,” one person wrote. “I don’t get it,” another simply stated.
  4. Once you do figure out the answer, it seems obvious. As one Facebook commenter pointed out, once they realized the answer, they couldn’t believe it took them so long. Any clues yet? Okay, okay, we’ll tell you…
  5. The riddle is a statement, not a question. After all, the word “what” does have four letters. That tracks. Next, “sometimes has 9 letters.” Yes, the word “sometimes” DOES have 9 letters. “But never has 5 letters,” it concludes. OH MAN, that’s right! Wow, I feel like an idiot now.
  6. People couldn’t get over how clever the riddle was. “Well I get it now and I can’t believe I was so confused for so long 🙄 I can’t live my life in peace now,” someone said. “Once I got it, i was really mad at myself I made it harder than what it was lol,” another added.
  7. The cafe is known for its clever riddles. Another day, they put out one that said, “What’s blue and doesn’t weigh very much? Light blue.” Ha ha – not as much of a nail-biter, but still very funny!

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill