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Did you solve it? The funniest jokes in maths | Mathematics

Earlier today I set you the puzzles below, chosen by Irish mathematician Des MacHale, a prolific writer of joke and puzzle books. You can read some of his jokes here.

The puzzles were a mixture of word, number and lateral thinking puzzles. They all give some ‘haha’ with the ‘aha!’.

1. A rich woman dies and leaves her entire fortune of two million pounds between a number of lion tamers. How much did each lion tamer receive?

Solution The nub of problem is grammar. The correct usage of ‘between’ and ‘among’ is that ‘between’ is for two people and ‘among’ is for more than two. So each lion-tamer got a million pounds. [Lion tamer is a red herring].

2. Punctuate this sentence to reverse its meaning: A SMART DOG KNOWS ITS MASTER.

Solution A SMART DOG KNOWS IT’S MASTER

3. What is never odd or even?

Solution NEVER ODD OR EVEN is a palindrome, i.e. it reads the same back to front.

4. Make this equation correct just by moving the digits about: 26 = 74.

Solution 72 = 49. You also needed to turn the 6 upside down!

5. Two objects perform the same task. One has many thousands of moving parts while the other has no moving parts. What are they?

Solution One object is an hourglass; the other is a sundial. They both measure time. The moving parts of an hourglass are grains of sand.

6. Why did a person buy an object they didn’t want for £1 and throw it away a few minutes later?

Solution They were shopping in a shop where if you spent £50 you got a reduction of £10. The bill came to £49 so they bought a useless object for £1.

7. Why did a man tighten the lids on all the jars in his house and put them in the fridge?

Solution He had had a serious row with his wife and she wasn’t talking to him. He knew this was one of the few tasks she could not do without his help.

8. In a locked cabin high up on the side of a mountain, five dead bodies are found. How had they all died?

Solution The cabin is the cabin of a jet plane which had crashed into the mountain killing the five people.

9. Why was a person standing at a bus stop with an ordinary kitchen chair in their arms?

Solution The person is a DIY enthusiast who is making a chair. They were using superglue and now the chair is stuck to their hands. They are waiting for a bus to take them to the hospital.

I hope you enjoyed these puzzles. I’ll be back in two weeks.

Thanks to Des MacHale for today’s puzzles. You can buy his magnum opus Comic Sections Plus : the Book of Mathematical Jokes, Humour, Wit and Wisdom here.

I set a puzzle here every two weeks on a Monday. I’m always on the look-out for great puzzles. If you would like to suggest one, email me.

I’m the author of several books of puzzles, most recently the Language Lover’s Puzzle Book. I also give school talks about maths and puzzles (online and in person). If your school is interested please get in touch.

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