Last week I thought of a riddle and posted it here. It got way more attention than I expected, including a new wave of similar riddles of the general format:

My prefix __
My suffix __
My infix __
I __

where the answer is a single word (or phrase) that satisfies each of the lines. The words "prefix", "suffix", and "infix" are also used loosely so that they are not necessarily word derivatives. Here's a list of all of them that I can find right now:

And in the last one listed, people are already discussing in the comments whether to call them "Riley riddles" or "Rileyddles."

And so my question:

Does this recent wave of riddles based on mine deserve its own tag, and if so, what should the tag be named?

Although I appreciate all the recognition, I don't think the tag should be rileyddle :) Do you think a tag like substring-riddle or affix-riddle would be appropriate? The word "affix" is a general term that includes prefixes, suffixes, and infixes.


6 Answers 6


Right now...

I think it's way too early to go creating a new tag. Popular puzzles with a relatively simple construction frequently spawn a wave of similar "inspired by" puzzles. The majority of times this wave dies down naturally after a couple of days/weeks. So prematurely creating a new tag for something that may end up only pointing to the set of riddles you posted is probably unnecessary.

IF this turns into a continuing trend...

I think I'd still vote for no, since ( and optionally /) still cover the semantics of the puzzle. It's pretty common for riddles to include partial word clues in them (examples: 1, 2, 3), so the only true differentiation is that it's following a specific syntactic template, which isn't particularly useful as a tag IMO.


No, I don't think a new tag is necessary.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, you make some good points. I figured that a wave of "inspired by" puzzles might be a common occurrence, but I haven't been around long enough to really know. Although I'm curious that if partial word clues are already a common occurrence, then why isn't there a tag specifically for that? I don't find wordplay/word fitting for describing partial word clues. It seems "wordplay" simply describes witty clues and "word" simply describes that the answer is a word. $\endgroup$
    – Riley
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 0:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Riley - they're definitely fairly common (more examples: 1, 2, 3), and I think the existing tags are sufficient, but I agree the existing tag wikis are a little lacking in proving that point... Generally wordplay (as used on PSE) includes puzzles where the words themselves are manipulated ("the used words become the main subject of the work"), and the wit angle is less important. (1/2) $\endgroup$
    – Alconja
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 1:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Riley - Similarly, it's normal for a riddle to employ wordplay (as I've described it) along with the other techniques mentioned in the tag wiki. However, given the fact that, as you point out, none of that is explicitly covered in either tag wiki, it's probably worth making a new meta post to discuss (and/or just updating the wikis)... (2/2) $\endgroup$
    – Alconja
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 1:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ +1 for "right now", as it doesn't have enough content to warrant a full tag of its own. But in future, I believe these are distinct enough - in the same way that you would use a haiku tag on writing.se rather than just poem+wordplay. The current tags describe how to solve them, but don't help people search for other similar puzzles easily - which will be an issue if we get significantly more riley-riddles. $\endgroup$
    – user41531
    Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 12:29

Just to present another opinion: Yes, there should be a riley-riddle tag.

The average self-made "Riley riddle" is of significantly higher quality than the average self-made beginner riddle on the site. For example, because of the triple wordplay, every riley-riddle is pretty much guaranteed to have a unique solution. Also, given the fixed format for the clues, it takes special effort to create a Riley riddle that isn't solvable in a reasonable amount of time.

More importantly though, the Riley riddles have exactly the correct balance of complexity and reward for a light puzzle to be solved over a cup of coffee: finding a common word that fits four clues offers just the right amount of smug satisfaction, considering the work required to find it. Also, the "ah, yes, of course" feeling from seeing the solution to a puzzle you didn't work out yourself is almost always there, a surefire indicator of a good puzzle.

In addition to all this, the format is highly accessible to would-be riddle authors, so I say we would do well to actively encourage creating such riddles, if for nothing else, then at least as a stepping stone to creating more complex puzzles.

For this purpose, a tag with its accompanying tag wiki would be a very handy resource.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I'm a bit confused... I agree that this format of riddle is good for the reasons you mention, but I'm not sure how that translates to the need for a specialised tag. I don't think you need a tag for encouragement - existing examples will naturally do that. As for a tag wiki, the format is pretty self-explanatory, so I can't see much value there. (Plus neither of those uses are what tags are for.) $\endgroup$
    – Alconja
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 2:15
  • $\begingroup$ Another noteworthy point is regarding the new trend: Riley rebus,. with this riley tag, these puzzles can simply have two tags: riley and rebus $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 27, 2018 at 6:40

I'm not sure that "deserve" is the right word, but IMO tags are useful for bandwagons for three (related) reasons:

  1. They allow people who find one question to find the rest.
  2. They allow people who enjoy them to mark the tag as favourite.
  3. They allow people who dislike either the particular bandwagon or bandwagons in general to ignore them.


I believe the tag (along with , or course) suffices, and adequately describes this type of puzzle.


Okay, let me give my reasons for supporting the tag.

Around June of 2015 (before I came to Puzzling SE), user JLee posted the What is a Word™ riddle. To date, there have been (at least) 150 of these puzzles. If in doubt, just check out this link.

Considering that Riley® riddles are easier to make (no offense @Riley), I believe that in the future there will be even more Riley® riddles compared to What is a Word™ riddles.

Given this, I believe we should include Riley as a tag, as it could (possibly) exceed even in number of puzzles (currently at 172 puzzles).

Amazing riddle by the way. You deserve that spot on the "Most Votes" puzzle list :D

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In addition, I do not believe it is wordplay, as its definition is: A form of wit in which the used words become the main subject of the work, primarily for the purpose of intended effect or amusement. And, a Riley riddle uses words in a practical way, not really amusement or wit. $\endgroup$
    – NL628
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 2:56
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ As a moderate counterpoint, we don't have jlee or what-is-a-word tags either... we have a word-property tag. That tag, while encompassing the What is a ... Word™ format, is not exclusive to it; it covers anything where finding common properties (or lack thereof) of words is the subject of the puzzle. I haven't entirely made up my mind if riddles of this type should have their own tag (we've seen a lot of fads come and go without getting or deserving their own tag; this trend seems a bit more enduring than most, so we'll see), but I know "riley-riddle" seems wrong. $\endgroup$
    – Rubio Mod
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 20:28

Around two years have passed
since the question was asked.
A solution we must find.

To contain the riddles
that is plenty of this form
a new tag must be defined!

As of now, a simple search of Riley riddle is:question in PSE yields 184 results. Considering many others that may not attribute this name, the search prefix infix suffix is:question gives out 286 results.

The number of riddles of this form as exceed many of the main tags; to state a few, : 274, : 200, and : 167. There are many more tags whose occurrences are far less than this amount. They too can be defined synonymous or in combination of other tags, e.g, , , , etc.

Thus, I strongly support the idea of creating a tag for the riddles of this kind.


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