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Why is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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The answer to this famous riddle is, of course, that neither one is made of cheese.

Actually, this riddle is designed to be nonsensical, and according to its author, Lewis Carroll, he never intended for there to be any real answer to the question: “why is a raven like a writing desk?” The entire point of the riddle is that it has no answer, although numerous people have come up with creative interpretations of the riddle.

This question is posed in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, in a scene with Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the Dormouse at the famous Tea Party. Alice is informed that riddles are being exchanged, and the Mad Hatter asks “why is a raven like a writing desk?” The guests attempt to puzzle the riddle out, and several pages later, the Hatter admits “I haven't the slightest idea.” The scene is meant to illustrate the topsy-turvy world into which Alice has fallen, with the whole book illustrating how confusing the adult world seems to children. When Alice asks about why they are wasting their time with riddles which have no answer, she's really asking a larger question about adults.

In an introduction to a later edition of the book, Lewis Carroll addressed the issue, saying “Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is never put with the wrong end in front!” In the original preface, “never” was spelled “nevar,” which is “raven” backward. Carroll's pun was unfortunately lost to the red pen of a proofreader, confusing the issue of the riddle even further.

A number of people have come up with creative answer to “why is a raven like a writing desk.” The answer “Poe wrote on both” is popular, as is “they both stand on sticks” and “they both come with inky quills.” One wit responded with “because there is a B in both and an N in neither,” an answer which was meant to highlight the absurdity of the original question. (Saying it aloud might make it clearer.)

The answer to the question of is largely up to you. Many people like to come up with absurdist answers to the question, turning the strange riddle back on itself. Admitting that you have no idea is, the classic response, and the response given in the original text. However, you should certainly not allow tradition to dictate the answer, as that would spoil all the fun.

Incidentally, the correct format for the riddle is "why is a raven like a writing desk," not "how is a raven like a writing desk," contrary to any misprints you may have seen.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Language & Humanities researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon1005570 — On Sep 26, 2021

Both the raven and the writing desk are used by the gods and goddesses to send messages.

By anon999860 — On Mar 30, 2018

Here is the real question to the riddle. Why are we here? Does this question have an answer?

By anon999407 — On Dec 29, 2017

One creaks and the other croaks.

By anon999166 — On Nov 08, 2017

BeCaws both Never wear/Never have drawers.

By anon998760 — On Aug 19, 2017

Because, if it wasn't, it would be more like an ostrich, which it isn't.

By anon997023 — On Nov 06, 2016

Becaws they both can have caws for thoughts.

By anon996728 — On Oct 08, 2016

One is never backwards and one is forwords.

By anon995890 — On Jun 06, 2016

re: Why is a raven like a writing desk?

I believe I may have solved this. It is widely known that Lewis Carroll gave an answer to this riddle but I believe his answer was also a clue to the true answer.

He published an answer as "Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat, and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front."

It was only realized recently that he spelled "nevar" incorrectly on purpose; it is "raven" backwards, and the second part of his explanation does not fit both a raven and a writing desk so has puzzled scholars. I believe in his answer he created another riddle and hint towards the real answer.

I believe he intended the riddle to be solved. My answer to the riddle is: One is nevar backwards and the other is forwords.

The misspelling of "forward" as "for-words" fits the saying and l believe this is the answer that Lewis Carroll had hidden as the intended answer. It would be good to know if he misspelled "forward" as "forword" in his work? -- Neil B.

By anon995679 — On May 19, 2016

In my copy of Alice in Wonderland, in the notes in the back it says that Lewis Carroll wrote this in the preface to the 1896 edition:

"Enquiries have so often come to me, as to whether any answer to the Hatter's riddle can be imagined, that I may as well put on record here what seems to me to be a fairly appropriate answer, viz.'Because it can produce a few notes, although they are very flat; and it is never put with the wrong end in front!' This, however, is merely an afterthought; the Riddle, as originally invented, had no answer at all."

Can someone explain the last part of that about never being put in front? I think a poster here already guessed that part of it, but I didn't understand.

By anon994204 — On Jan 23, 2016

"Why is a raven like a writing desk?"

Sounds to me like a typical kid question to something said, such as "A raven is like a writing desk." (It could be an idom or catchphrase.)

Kids have that 'why phase', so of course they'd ask.

And of course the adult might say, "Because I said so."

You can interpret this as equivalent to saying, "I haven't the foggiest idea," "I have no clue," etc.

So really, it wouldn't have an answer simply because adults wouldn't know 'why', just that it is (for idom/catchphrase purposes)

By anon992869 — On Oct 08, 2015

There's a 'b' in neither and an 'n' in both.

By anon991256 — On Jun 07, 2015

The question is "Why" not "How".

By anon989874 — On Mar 25, 2015

Ravens, metaphorically speaking, are writing desks as they literally travel to and from locations carrying messages from humans (thankful we didn't extinct them like the pigeon).

By anon985629 — On Jan 17, 2015

They both stand on stiff legs.

By anon985289 — On Jan 14, 2015

Before googling it, the best answer I had was that since a raven is generally a bad omen in literature and the most common thought while sitting at a writing desk is "what to write?", they both represent uncertainty. Humans don't know what to expect in the future, so they look for clues in the present while struggling to write their future. But really, a future should just be written, paying no mind to the ravens, because it's more enjoyable than always worrying about what's to come.

By cement — On Oct 04, 2014

The difference is one.

By anon966566 — On Aug 20, 2014

Why is a raven like a writing desk? Because that which is never backward is always forwards, and a raven is nevar backward, and a writing desk is always for words.

If you knew a little bit about Carroll's habit of feeding out teasing clues bit by bit, you’d know that Carroll’s statement that the riddle was not intended to have an answer was very similar in form to other little games he played.

For those of you who are not familiar with the statement, it’s in the form of “no meaning was originally intended, but if it was, hint, hint, and hint”.

I’m paraphrasing here, but I truly believe that if Carroll hadn’t died so soon after making the statement, he would have given us more clues until someone finally came up with the answer. – Mary H.

By anon956506 — On Jun 14, 2014

I prefer Stephen King's answer from The Shining: The higher you go, the less of them there are.

By anon954187 — On May 30, 2014

Because they both come with inky quills.

By anon359711 — On Dec 20, 2013

Lewis Carrol wants use to brain to think about, "why is a raven like a writing desk ? " Their really is no real answer to this question; it is as simple as that. But people insist on coming up with their own replies to this question. My response to the question, you ask? Well it is, "I have not the slightest idea." It is as simple as that.

By anon341162 — On Jul 09, 2013

To me, the question is just a pleasant sounding string of words.

By anon332688 — On Apr 30, 2013

They do not mix well with water.

By anon308957 — On Dec 13, 2012

They both make loud creaking noises.

By anon308822 — On Dec 12, 2012

Because there are no answers, there are infinite answers. Paradox!

By anon306216 — On Nov 28, 2012

Both are often mistaken for their counter, a raven for a crow, and a writing desk for a office desk or such.

By anon292044 — On Sep 17, 2012

They are both the cause of much scratching.

By anon291339 — On Sep 13, 2012

More than half of you completely missed the point of the book and the article.

The "riddle" was a satirical attempt by Lewis Carroll stating that adults should stop wasting time trying to answer questions with no answers and instead focus on more important things.

By anon291129 — On Sep 12, 2012

I know there's no need for a response but I had a thought as well. Back in old times before email and even mail carriers, ravens brought letters and information to people on routes I believe. Each raven traveled specific routes and carried letters or small scrolls. So a writing desk helps carry or allow information to be copied or written down/delivered through other means. And a raven would deliver information or copied information to another person/to other means also.

By anon263319 — On Apr 23, 2012

Why is a raven like a writing desk? Because both are full of mystery, they are both ominous in that you have no idea what's coming. Plus the Poe thing.

By ChanDawn — On Jan 10, 2012

In disagreement with the article, I think that one can assume that Alice is a pre-teen or even a young teen always being told what to doM how to live and so on, she hates it and like Dorothy and Oz, Alice longs for something different -- A place where she will fit in because no one expects anything of anyone and what you do expect is never so and vice versa. In a sense, she gets what she asked for, only to find that it's not what she wanted at all. So her trip to Wonderland causes the realization that she is prepared to be rational and conform to societal expectations for fear of finding herself as Mad as a Hatter.

If Wonderland is what she created in her mind, then a riddle would be a serious question. Since a serious question warrants a serious answer, then the answer should be nonsense. The only answer that makes sense and no sense is: Because in your mind it is so!

By anon239743 — On Jan 10, 2012

I think you are all looking backward at a forward question. It is childhood that Alice finds is nonsensical and thereby takes her first steps into adulthood after her visit to Wonderland.

In the beginning, she says that if the world were her way than all the things that were would not be and contrariwise, how they weren't they would be. So the obvious answer is that a raven is not like a writing desk because if it were, then it wouldn't be.

By anon216852 — On Sep 23, 2011

Did any of you actually read the article? I think not because all you are posting is what is written in the article.

By anon212420 — On Sep 07, 2011

"Why is a writing desk like a raven?"

Take that, Lewis Carroll! Hope that question makes you turn in your grave just the way your riddle makes me turn in my bed!

By anon193117 — On Jul 03, 2011

Why is a raven like a writing desk? Because Edgar Ellen Poe wrote on both of them.

By anon189452 — On Jun 23, 2011

why is a raven like a writing desk? because neither one can write.

think about it. have you ever seen a desk writing, or a raven writing? no, and you'll never see a cigar box, or a horsefly, or a rubber band, etc. all very silly ideas/definitions/concepts.

and a silly answer to a silly riddle in a silly story that i have loved since forever.

By anon183423 — On Jun 05, 2011

Just a quick thought on my part: If I understand correctly, the question is, "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" This means that Carrol wanted to know for what reason the are alike not which characteristics do they share. This can be answered by from 2 points of view. 1. (child asking the question) Because I said so. It doesn't matter than none of this makes sense to you. It simply is because I say so. 2. (adult asking the question) Because God made it so. We can't change what simply is no matter how little sense it makes to us.

By manchwr — On Jun 02, 2011

"Because it is difficult to find a good specimen of either."

By dickens — On May 05, 2011

Because I'm sure they both long to be red.

By anon172030 — On May 02, 2011

because when you burn both they will be nevermore.

By anon168678 — On Apr 18, 2011

there really is only one answer: that it doesn't have one. It's as simple as that. You're not stupid to believe this. Maybe he just wrote the riddle to cause confusion, because as others have said "humanity always has to have an answer," but really what do we do when there is no answer? we force one on to others. so just go with the simple idea of, well, not having an answer.

By anon164656 — On Apr 01, 2011

Poster 107: and all you other people who were calling anybody who replied, "Because Poe writes/wrote on both" dimwits, stupid, 'utterly American' (ex-cuse me? well, it's like me telling me that's 'utterly British of you'. (Doesn't make much sense, does it?) need to get your facts straight before you say something that is actually a very wise answer, and just accept the fact that there is no true answer to this question. There are many.

Edgar Allan Poe, born January 19, 1809, died October 7, 1849. To cut to the chase, he was a famous author, who wrote a poem called 'The Raven'. Obviously, being in the time frame he was in, he didn't write his works on a wall, iphone, or laptop computer. He wrote it on a writing desk.

You see? Poe wrote about a raven, and he wrote *on* a writing desk. Poe writes on both. Ta-da!

By anon163943 — On Mar 29, 2011

To number 154: We are not dimwits thank you. They are just trying to find a conclusion. And technically it is humanly impossible to prove another wrong, as in the word butterfly. The word butterfly was originally supposed to be flutterby but there was a typo when it was being put into the dictionary. So as I said, you can't prove that they are wrong.

I like the answer. I haven't the slightest idea. Ps. I'm eleven.

By anon161024 — On Mar 17, 2011

In relation to this riddle, a raven is like a writing desk because there are never any answers.

If you look at the riddle, and the information surrounding it, "there is no answer" is what you get every time.

Therefore, a raven and a writing desk are akin to each other because you can ask either as many questions in as many ways as you like, but neither will ever be able to provide you the answer.

By anon159800 — On Mar 13, 2011

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

They both hurt your hand if you hit em' with it.

OK, pretty bad, but hey, it was created by Lewis Carrol. It's going to be.

By anon159133 — On Mar 10, 2011

Caroll answered this question in a preface actually. It wasn't meant to be answered. He did, however, give an afterthought: "Because both produce notes and both are very flat."

Another common answer is, "Because Poe wrote on both of them."

By anon156302 — On Feb 26, 2011

They both make notes that are flat. (i got it from a friend).

By anon155498 — On Feb 23, 2011

It just occurred to me that a raven and a writing desk both collect shiny objects. Poor answer but it tickled me. --AGF

By anon149684 — On Feb 05, 2011

I've just been reading all these comments and had to say something: I don't think there is a answer, and that is the point of the riddle. The mad hatter is very mad and if you asked 'why is the mad hatter mad?' then the answer would have to be 'because he is.' If you asked 'why is the white rabbit always late?' There is no precise reason -- just because he is. There's no point going into the question so much so you get yourself confused about it all. So if there ever was an answer it would be simply 'Because it is'. Hope this helped.

By anon149612 — On Feb 04, 2011

They both tender the imagination.

By anon148580 — On Feb 02, 2011

There should really be no answer to this riddle.

and I think it should remain to be a mystery to everyone - just like a wonderland that is full of mysteries. -Ches.

By anon148491 — On Feb 01, 2011

As my friend Chuck Bridges puzzled and concluded, "One supports opinion and the other is supported by a pinion!" Give him a few drinks and he will solve the world's problems. Thanks, Chuck!

By anon145133 — On Jan 22, 2011

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Because when you have a group of either it's murder!

By anon145105 — On Jan 21, 2011

that quote has nothing to do with Edgar Allen Poe. yes he wrote a poem called the raven. but that quote is based on something else.

By anon144496 — On Jan 19, 2011

Edgar Allan Poe is the answer a friend told me.

By anon143900 — On Jan 18, 2011

a dead man sits on one the other sits in a dead man -- from a book lewis enjoyed

By anon143797 — On Jan 17, 2011

Because they both have inky quills.

By anon140641 — On Jan 08, 2011

Another answer could be: 'They both produce a flat note' As in when the Raven crows and a note being paper written on the desk.

By anon138723 — On Jan 02, 2011

Because they both don't think.

By anon137674 — On Dec 28, 2010

why is it? because if it wasn't it wouldn't be as entertaining to see people fight about it.

By anon135704 — On Dec 20, 2010

Riddle: Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Answer: The answer for me is that it is like the answer. The answer that some people say is, "I haven't the slightest idea." The answer is like life, the riddle has no answer and no one can figure out what the real answer is really going to be. It is like life because it is like before your death, you don't have an answer to how you are going to die and no one can figure out what the real answer really is.

By anon135402 — On Dec 18, 2010

They both devour you.

By anon135275 — On Dec 17, 2010

# 107: Poe wrote on a raven in a different sense than writing on a desk. He wrote on the topic of a raven in his poem, "The Raven."

However, as this answer can be fit to make sense, I believe that it is incorrect. The whole point, in my opinion, is that there was never meant to be an answer, because, like it or not, the riddle isn't a question. It is a statement. A statement about how truly ridiculous people are, needing to have an answer to everything, when in reality there is no answer to everything. People cannot accept that it just is what it is.

By anon135273 — On Dec 17, 2010

To number 128: That must be the answer!

By anon135134 — On Dec 17, 2010

Ever since I heard that quote in the new Disney version, I thought it was an allusion to Poe. I'm a fan of his so naturally I would think of him when "raven" and "writing desk" are put in the same sentence.

By anon134461 — On Dec 14, 2010

Why is a raven like a writing desk you may ask?

Well my answer is that they both don't exist. Mind blown? Let's go further: they both don't exist but neither do we. The world as you know it will fall apart upon reading the above.

By anon132641 — On Dec 07, 2010

To 158: The author used a mad hatter to assist in signifying how strange the adult world is to a child. The character of the Mad Hatter was based on a common turn of phrase used during the time the book was written to describe the mental condition of a hat maker before they discovered that mercury, used in making hats in that time was toxic and could caused brain damage. Clock makers also had had a similar condition.

This was not a reference to Poe; it was an alliteration of the confusion of a child in an adult world, for those who missed the sedulity.

By anon129224 — On Nov 22, 2010

Because both can go far! a raven can fly far away and a writing desk can lead to a book which can get very popular. And if a child asked an adult this the answer would be because i said so.

By anon128822 — On Nov 21, 2010

It's simple. A raven, as an embodiment of both intrigue and some association with the dark, or death, is like a writing desk because approaching the creative process (i.e. sitting down to write) is very much the same way. Those who don't know this are simply not writers.

By anon128611 — On Nov 20, 2010

number 85, an open window isn't at all open when the sign is flipped to the side that says closed.

By anon127527 — On Nov 16, 2010

poe wrote on both.

By anon127405 — On Nov 16, 2010

Not only are you all trying to answer a riddle that has no answer, but most of you are answering to "How is a raven like a writing desk?" instead of "Why?"

By anon124683 — On Nov 06, 2010

Q. Why is a raven like a writing desk?

A. I haven't the slightest idea

All these answers can be the right one which means the answer is whatever you can come up with and in fact there is no real right answer.

By anon124202 — On Nov 04, 2010

My brother told me this riddle a long time ago, and after a few days of bugging him for the answer, he said:

"A raven is like a writing desk because...

The higher the fewer." (which basically means that there is no real answer because everything gets fewer the higher you go up).

By anon123972 — On Nov 04, 2010

He, He. The real (19th century) answer is: because they both contain blackened quills! --Arapahoe

By anon122035 — On Oct 26, 2010

If Lewis Carroll - sorry, I meant Charles Dodgson- could see this page now, he would be so proud. He has achieved exactly what he set out to do: started a debate and made people laugh in the process. The answer to the riddle is, like it or not, irrelevant.

By anon121351 — On Oct 24, 2010

Edgar Allan Poe wrote "The Raven" on a writing desk. I believe that Lewis Carol used this riddle as a reference to Edgar Allan Poe, because Poe was a character who had always questioned whether or not he was "mad", much like the Hatter. --Jessica G.

By anon119925 — On Oct 19, 2010

On both are bills which cause (caws) concern.

Bows deeply.

By anon119920 — On Oct 19, 2010

I think a raven is like a writing desk because they make us ask so many questions!

Example: With a raven, you wonder about its past, where it has lived,how old is it and stuff like that.

Example: With a writing desk, you wonder who it was made by, where was is made, how many generations has it been passed down for and stuff like that. That is what i think, at least.

By anon118835 — On Oct 15, 2010

Good Lord. When did the world get so stupid? It's disconcerting enough that most of you fail to have even a rudimentary grasp of the English language, but the lack of sophistication evident in these posts is disheartening and conclusive proof that the world is populated by a bunch of dimwits. May Dodgson's ghost haunt you all. - The Dread Pirate Roberts

By anon117680 — On Oct 11, 2010

Because Poe wrote on both of them. ~NRG

By anon117004 — On Oct 08, 2010

Because they are both free. The raven is obviously a free being, and when someone writes what they are truly feeling, it can be the most freeing experience.

By anon116162 — On Oct 05, 2010

The answer is whatever you want it to be, and the point of the riddle is that there is no point, and that is what makes it brilliant. And if you think I'm mad, I am, but I'll let you in on a little secret: all the best people are.

By anon115834 — On Oct 04, 2010

i have the answer: because it was made to show how the mad hatter was freaking insane. he has these constant thoughts in his head and multiple personalities. he came up with a riddle that he himself kept looking for an answer then to realize there was no answer and he was mad "insane".

why is everyone still trying to come up with answers? the writer of the book said himself there is no answer to it. i don't get why you guys can't interpret this simple article.

By anon115348 — On Oct 01, 2010

why is a raven like a writing desk? It's simple, if you haven't noticed. Alice in Wonderland is all mad from the part when she falls in the rabbit hole so everything everybody says and does is mad. so simply the riddle is mad to fit in with the theme of the movie.

By anon114972 — On Sep 30, 2010

The answer is simple - both have a "B" and neither has an "N." Simple!

By anon114855 — On Sep 30, 2010

Has anyone else noticed that the riddle is asking why a raven is like a writing desk?

Working out how they are alike is just the first step.

And I very much like the idea of making up a riddle before the answer(s).

By anon113746 — On Sep 25, 2010

Because they both have legs (table legs and the legs of the writing desk). Although i have my own answer i like number 19's answer.

By anon113620 — On Sep 25, 2010

Because Lewis Carroll wanted us all to freak out about a little question.

In my opinion, there's lots of ways that they're similar, though. There doesn't have to be just one answer either, there can be millions. It's like asking someone, "What's your favorite color?" They may answer "salmon pink", "blue", "weasels start with M" or whatever takes their fancy for all I care.

By anon113549 — On Sep 24, 2010

whats cheese got to do with a raven and a writing desk?

By anon113514 — On Sep 24, 2010


that is the ultimate answer

By anon113499 — On Sep 24, 2010

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Because they both have legs.

That was my first thought of an answer to the question.

By anon113364 — On Sep 24, 2010

Actually, you are all incorrect and partially so is the description: Q: "Why is a raven like a writing desk?"

A: "Careful, she's stark ravin' mad!"

It is the play on words of a writer and a creative reader to answer correctly. A writing desk could indeed seek plunder and prey as a 'raven' does. If you have ever had writers block where it felt like a pen weighed a ton and the desk held you captive or ever had to listen to a raven then you know that both situations could make you utterly, absolutely, or quite mad.

By anon112588 — On Sep 21, 2010

I guess the intention of Carroll was to show that adults sometimes say weird stuff or do weird things but later have no idea why they said or did.

The whole story of wonderland happens inside Alice's dream (The tea she drank was a drug of some kind that put her to sleep). Each character portrays someone in her life. But, as I guess, The Mad Hatter is a resemblance of all the adults in the world.

Well, after all they say "As mad as the hat is."

By anon112157 — On Sep 19, 2010

to answer this is easy. It's a trick. Edgar Allan poe wrote the raven on his first writing desk.

By anon111886 — On Sep 18, 2010

Why is a cat like a stool? Why is a dog like a mirror? Why is a bear like a shelf?

Why must there be an answer?

By anon111763 — On Sep 17, 2010

A raven is like a writing desk because the question makes us think of them both at the same time.

Of course, there are possibly thousands of answers, but the point is that there doesn't have to be an answer.

By anon111704 — On Sep 17, 2010

The first time i heard it i really wanted to know the answer but could not come up with one but then i turned 11 and figured it out it is like the tooth fairy; it is simply made up.

it is just a bunch of fibs, and lies that got created. both are true but who are we humans maybe animals to question god's will? who are we to do that? maybe when we die we could try to ask god. maybe he knows. i don't know. i am not dead yet but one day i will be.

By anon110148 — On Sep 10, 2010

The meaning of life. Like the question, has no answer. It's what you make of it. Do something profound.

By anon109804 — On Sep 09, 2010

A reason a raven is like a writing desk is that both can strike fear in the hearts of school-children around the world.

Another is the fact that both can be black.

But the fact that neither is made of cheese is clearly the answer we have been searching for all these years.

By anon109553 — On Sep 08, 2010

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

- they ran out of wood to build writing desks but had a rather strange surplus of ravens that they started using as building materials in woodwork class.

By anon108525 — On Sep 03, 2010

Tell you what, I'll ask my profoundly gifted 5 year old when he wakes up tomorrow morning and post what he says. I'm guessing he's going to say "that doesn't make any sense".

By anon106981 — On Aug 28, 2010

I have always thought it was because a raven is not like a writing desk and a writing desk is not like a raven and since they have something in common then a raven is like a writing desk. But that's just my answer.

By anon106303 — On Aug 25, 2010

To poster 107, Poe wrote on both is not as dumb as it seems. Poe would have written 'The Raven' at a writing desk, therefore 'Poe wrote on both' is not as dumb as it seems, because I seriously doubt Poe would have been writing 'The Raven' on his laptop at the bus station in London.

By ShadowHunter — On Aug 17, 2010

You want my answer? OK. My answer is simply: Because.

By anon104480 — On Aug 16, 2010

...because they both, like very small rocks, float! (Thank you...Monty P.)

By anon103295 — On Aug 11, 2010

Because they're a part of something unwelcome.

By anon102459 — On Aug 08, 2010

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Why is up, up and down, down? Why can't up be down and down be up? Why can't humanity understand the simplest things?

You are standing too close to the question. I know the answer.

By anon101731 — On Aug 04, 2010

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Well i believe the answer to this isn't necessarily the answer to the actual question. I think the answer is "Why does there have to be a correct answer?"

Every time I see this question I don't try to think of the "right or correct" answer, I think "Why is the question being asked?". This is when I began really thinking. I think of the question some more and funny images pop into my head. Maybe the raven isn't like a writing desk. Maybe our minds just want it to be.

"Why does there have to be an answer?" I ask myself, and it's because the adult world wants there to be. But if you ask a little kid, "Why is a raven like a writing desk?", one of two things will happen: the child will either be completely confused (in this case they are already consumed in the adult world) or the child will come up with, what to you might be a very ridiculous answer, but nonetheless an answer which will make sense in every way to them (in this case they are what we all used to be: innocent and open-minded). To them there is no reason why a raven is like a writing desk, it just is. And maybe that's just how it's supposed to be.

Why is a raven like a writing desk? Because it is.

By anon101406 — On Aug 03, 2010

why is a raven like a writing desk?

- they both hold quills.

- they both stand on legs.

i don't really know the answer. but there cannot be an answer to everything.

By anon101164 — On Aug 02, 2010

There are two answers. The more popular is, "Poe wrote on both."

My answer is, "Both are believed capable of bearing the soul of another."

By anon100755 — On Jul 31, 2010

a raven is like a writing desk simply because a glass of orange juice is like a shark.

By anon100267 — On Jul 29, 2010

Because they are both boring: a writing desk is boring because you work and write on it and a raven is boring because of its dull, black color and they both sit there all day doing nothing!

By anon99486 — On Jul 26, 2010

There both make the "Ra" sound in the beginning. Your questions are answered.

By anon99397 — On Jul 26, 2010

This is a reference to Edgar Allen Poe and "The Raven". Look it up! --D.

By anon99062 — On Jul 25, 2010

Because you can put a raven in a desk, or a desk in a raven. Yet in both situations, the raven will die. Either from suffocation or forceful injury. I just came up with that.

By anon98813 — On Jul 24, 2010

I think it is because neither horses or rainbow fish are similar to the silver star of apple.

By anon97718 — On Jul 20, 2010

maybe, because they both sit on wood.

By anon95914 — On Jul 13, 2010

But because there is a question there must also be an answer, because there must be a yin if there is a yang. For everything must have a balance. otherwise there is chaos.

By anon94999 — On Jul 11, 2010

You cannot find the answer because there is none. More to the point, must people have an answer for everything?

or must everything have an answer? and the answer to that is, as long as there are humans, right or wrong, they will always have an answer.

By anon94982 — On Jul 11, 2010

What's with this poe thing? It seems to be the americans posting this which is weird because Lewis Carroll was British so I highly doubt he would use something american as the answer! What/who is poe? And how can you write on a raven? So "poe wrote on both" is a stupid and obviously wrong answer.

By anon94934 — On Jul 10, 2010

A raven is like a writing desk because a cat is like a stool.

By anon94933 — On Jul 10, 2010

Because they are both what they are, and neither is what it isn’t.

By anon93854 — On Jul 06, 2010

Because they both have inky quills, i guess.

By anon93361 — On Jul 03, 2010

a raven is like a writing desk because they both exist and...

By anon93183 — On Jul 02, 2010

Both are flammable.

By anon92832 — On Jun 30, 2010

Because they both taunt you, as does the riddle.

By anon92597 — On Jun 29, 2010

I've always said 'because poe wrote on both.' i actually had no idea what it was from, to be honest.

By anon92481 — On Jun 28, 2010

I'm not claiming to know the answer, as there are many possible answers. for the same reason, I'm not saying any of you are wrong. it's true that neither of them are made of cheese, poe did write on both and there truly is a "B" in 'both' and an "N" in 'neither' but I like my own answer better than these.

My answer is not to the original question, 'Why is raven like a writing desk' but to a re-interpretation. poster 31 re-interpreted the question as follows: why is a 'dark and beautiful creature' like the One that made it? to simplify that, why is the creation like its creator? or in what way is the raven like the one that wrote about it? (note, it's not "in what way" but "why").

My answer is a geeky one. because everybody puts aspects of themselves into many of their characters to make them easier to write. I also choose to interpret this as Lewis Carrol saying that he too is as mad as a hatter.

There are other ways I could interpret it, such as saying that the raven is choosing to be like a writing desk by mimicking it. I don't know why it would do that. I could also say that it says 'a writing desk' not 'any writing desk' and so the writing desk in question could be made of raven bones or something. absurd, but possible.

By anon92399 — On Jun 28, 2010

They're both 'black'

By anon92269 — On Jun 27, 2010

a raven is like a writing desk because they each produce notes but they are all flat.

i hope it helps.

By anon91798 — On Jun 24, 2010

Pondering upon this question I have actually come across an idea that holds true to the original answer of "I haven't the slightest". Perhaps the answer, in keeping with the original intentions is that it is never kissed, why a raven is like a writing desk. if this doesn't make sense then an easier way to look at it would be to read the sentence out loud.

By anon91729 — On Jun 23, 2010

because you can get a low note (musical) out of both.

By anon91099 — On Jun 19, 2010

Because it can produce a few notes, though. they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!" (Note the spelling of "never" as "never"—turning it into "raven" when inverted. This spelling, however, was "corrected" in later editions to "never" and Carroll's pun was lost.)

By anon90753 — On Jun 17, 2010

why don't you guys just not look for the answer!

be imaginative, and fun about it! create your own answer!

you guys think too deeply about this question.

it's just a question. i could say, how is a mirror like a dog? i would have no answer, and you guys would be trying to figure an answer out all day.

By anon90742 — On Jun 17, 2010

Response numbered "81" got it perfectly.

By anon89449 — On Jun 10, 2010

Why is a Raven like a writing desk? I have no idea. Have I gone mad? I'm afraid so, completely around the bend, but can I tell you a secret? All the best people are.

By anon89444 — On Jun 10, 2010

Because Poe wrote on both.

By anon89439 — On Jun 10, 2010

why is a raven like a writing desk? There is no answer.

By anon89328 — On Jun 09, 2010

a raven is like a writing desk because apparently it is. that's why.

By anon89162 — On Jun 09, 2010

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

The answer is "I haven't the slightest idea!" because the best answer is sometimes to admit that you didn't know and may never know.

The question simply unearths other questions.

When is an open window not at all open?

By anon88579 — On Jun 06, 2010

That is absurd. Ravens don't have thumbs.

Obviously, it's because they both have legs and feathers.

By anon88547 — On Jun 05, 2010

I know there isn't an answer or the answer is, "I haven't the slightest idea," but I think it would be cool if you replied a quote from X-Men:

"Why do you always ask questions you already know the answers to?"

Try it. You might just get the results you are supposed to. --ME

By anon88372 — On Jun 04, 2010

i think its original intention is a mockery of our need to have an answer to everything.

By anon88043 — On Jun 02, 2010

I'm not very sure if this is correct but if you watch the movie then you will see how later in the movie,after the mad hatter asks the question, when alice tries to find her way back, there is a raven using its beak as a pencil and writing on a desk.

There is also another one that i heard only once from someone: because there is a type of wood called raven wood often used to make desks!

By anon87887 — On Jun 02, 2010

Well you see if you spell them backward, each in turn, neither one can you discern.

By anon87487 — On May 30, 2010

it's not that hard, really. well, do they both tweet? no.

can you write on both? no.

well then they have absolutely nothing in common unless they are both very old and then they might just croak. But when you think about it for a really long time, you might come up with a different answer.

By anon87288 — On May 29, 2010

because poe wrote on both!

By anon87210 — On May 28, 2010

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

You may say because there is a B in both and an N in neither, but I say because i said so. owned. completely. by me.

P.S. in order to accept my answer you have to be as mad as a hatter

By anon87164 — On May 28, 2010

Where is this raven? He's got some explaining to do.

By anon86200 — On May 24, 2010

because a writing desk is made from wood which could be made from the type of wood called raven wood!

By anon85808 — On May 22, 2010

Because A raven is A bird. and a desk is a desk. so that makes no sense.

By anon85652 — On May 21, 2010

because one can communicate to the dead with either.

Ravens are known to be associated with death.

By anon85287 — On May 19, 2010

When is a door not a door?

When it's a writing desk.

By anon84402 — On May 15, 2010

Because as they both age, they lose their youth and luster and eventually fade away making use for the new.

As they age they lose what they had when they were younger, and become old and frail. This might be why Lewis Carrol (pardon any misspellings) said that he was talking about the confusing world of the adults, and how an innocent child might look at it.

I do not know why those above are posting comments on Poe and "The Raven" when the real question is not how it is similar to other works, but why is the raven like the writing desk.

By anon84367 — On May 15, 2010

Because you can baffle the billions with both.

By anon84274 — On May 14, 2010

They are both made of wood.

By anon84075 — On May 13, 2010

Because either can easily make you feel uncomfortable, even if it doesn't croak.

By anon82965 — On May 08, 2010

They can both produce excrement.

My answer is the right one because it is good.

But, yeah "the question was "why", not "in what way". To the why, I guess I'd answer with the question, "Why not?"

By anon82776 — On May 07, 2010

This raven is clearly not a raven at all but a writing desk. Ravens cannot be writing desks and thus writing desks cannot be ravens. If I were a raven i would want a simple life of a writing desk, if I was a writing desk I would want the exciting life of a raven.

The correct or "incorrect" answer as some would say, is that the raven and writing desk are envious of each other.

By anon82083 — On May 04, 2010

Because neither is freaking made of cheese! They already told you the answer!

By anon81984 — On May 04, 2010

Why is the raven like a writing desk? Well it is simple if we were supposed to know what it meant. wouldn't the answer have been revealed, and for that matter, why are all you people obsessing over finding the answer to something you will never understand?

By anon81506 — On May 02, 2010

Because they both stand on legs.

By anon80566 — On Apr 27, 2010

There is blood on both be it by the hand of a traitor upon shining wood or the meal of a raven on a beak as sharp as sword.

By anon80433 — On Apr 27, 2010

They are both brought into this world and they both can be taken out and they can cut you if you don't treat them well.

By anon80335 — On Apr 27, 2010

Because they both use quills.

By anon79986 — On Apr 25, 2010

Because ravens fly and the stuff you write at the desk flies with your imagination.

By anon79638 — On Apr 23, 2010

Because Poe wrote on both of them.

By anon78936 — On Apr 20, 2010

Because ravens are used to deliver messages like pigeons and you write letters on a writing desk so you send the letter that you wrote on the writing desk! see? it's along those lines2

By anon78889 — On Apr 20, 2010

The answer is obviously because they both are flat, hold quills, and most of all because they both stay still.

By anon78623 — On Apr 19, 2010

Who are we but simple humans?

Why must there be an answer or no answer?

Life is simply a perspective, an answer is only a part of your limited point of view, which all life is.

So 'Why is a raven like a writing desk?' I could certainly associate many connections to it, or take Charles 'original statement in there being none.

But perhaps the answer to the riddle is all of this.

By chipmunk3 — On Apr 18, 2010

why is a raven like a writing desk?

because it just is (and whoever asks that question is bonkers, mad like me)

By anon78344 — On Apr 18, 2010

of, there is no such thing as a murder of Ravens. It is a murder of crows, and an unkindness, or a congress of ravens.

By anon78180 — On Apr 17, 2010

because they both hold quills.

By anon78076 — On Apr 16, 2010

There are many interpretations and applications for this riddle. (the nonsensical riddle is a tool to make you think; kind of like algebra; and let us bear in mind that Carroll was a mathematician; who might use his ambiguous allusions to convey philosophical and theological conundrums). Lewis Carrol was known to use double, triple and quadruple meanings.

The application i see most overarchingly is perhaps an allusion to 'the problem of evil'. God is the creator; He also made the raven. Like the work of Poe, is not 'the raven' also a beautiful creature? God is good and not evil; though He created evil.

An implication here poses the question: Why is raven like a writing desk; why is a 'dark and beautiful creature' like the One that made it? Poe wrote on the desk; but why is the raven like the desk from which it was made?

The words of the riddle are intentionally unsound; like the raven that is (unlike the writing desk.

By anon77558 — On Apr 14, 2010

No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness.

By anon77515 — On Apr 14, 2010

because the raven wanted to be.

By anon77165 — On Apr 13, 2010

Because bills and tales (tails) are in their characteristics.

By anon76649 — On Apr 11, 2010

You all are missing the point of the riddle. The actual question is "Why is a raven like a writing desk?", suggesting that the raven chose to be different from the writing desk, not how. It is a question of intent not characteristics in common or differing. Why did the raven choose to be like, or different from, the writing desk?

By anon76613 — On Apr 11, 2010

They both mock. A raven will mock you, like in Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Raven', and a writing desk will mock you when you have writer's block. Clearly they both will mock you.

By anon75795 — On Apr 07, 2010

Because they both make notes, (songs...) and they are/can be a dark color? I have no clue!

By anon75220 — On Apr 06, 2010

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

I haven't the slightest idea.

By anon74587 — On Apr 02, 2010

the answer is obvious: they both have nothing to do with cheese!

By anon74332 — On Apr 01, 2010

because they both exist.

By anon74112 — On Mar 31, 2010

it has no answer. That's what it was meant for. The mad hatter, someone who was clearly insane and not thinking, asks alice this with no real expectation that she would get it anyway. i love the youngsters who think they know what is what and probably think that emo isn't the new goth.

By anon73709 — On Mar 29, 2010

I always thought it was because "They both lead to murder" as in the Raven, the bird, in a group are called a murder, or can be used symbolically to represent an dark situation such as murder, and the writing desk because how often do we see murder in the written word? or even authors that kill themselves/others?

By anon73515 — On Mar 27, 2010

Why is a raven like a writing desk? Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is never put with the wrong end in front.

the incorrect spelling of "never" was intended because never backward is Raven because you don't put the end in front.

By anon72974 — On Mar 25, 2010

How amusing to see how some posters believe being smarter than others, just because they know an answer to something.

Fact is, not everything bears an answer or the answer is so simple that it is difficult to accept it as being the right one. It lies within human nature to see things in the most complicated way instead of going practical.

Lewis Carrol joked with this, thus asking this question, knowing exactly that people would try to find the answer, which, of course, does not exist or is too simple to accept.

Saying "I don't know the answer" would be the same as admitting defeat in a certain way. But it does not mean one is dumb or ignorant just because the answer remains unknown. I believe people tend to proof themselves by showing they know the answers, even when there isn't one.

In other words, the answer to this is:

There is no answer.

By anon72956 — On Mar 25, 2010

The answer is: “I haven't the slightest idea.”

Who is the raven? The raven is a guy who went "raven' mad!" (raving mad, in slang) which is: the mad hatter.

This pertains to the future. The future is like a white bond paper. The future is not set. It is always changing. Thus whatever happens in the future is up to us. Whatever we write on our white bond paper of destiny is up to us. If the raven is the mad hatter who has the power to write our destiny on a writing desk, and if you ask him what will he write, he'll say, “I haven't the slightest idea.”

By anon72627 — On Mar 23, 2010

Because there's a B in both and an N in neither.

By anon72380 — On Mar 22, 2010

none of those are right. it is everything you can't do. on either, you cannot ride either of them like a bicycle.

By anon72320 — On Mar 22, 2010

Originally, there is no answer to that riddle.

Lewis Carrol came up with an answer later because of the many readers asking him what the answer was.

By anon72093 — On Mar 21, 2010

Edgar Allan Poe wrote on both.

He wrote about a raven, and he did his writing on a desk. I'm only twelve, and I can't believe no one else could figure it out.

By anon71810 — On Mar 20, 2010

Because they both have inky quills.

By anon71564 — On Mar 18, 2010

because edgar allan poe wrote on both of them.

By anon70995 — On Mar 16, 2010

"They both produce a few notes, all very flat, and are almost never turned the wrong way front."

i am 13 and i know the answer better than the two other posters. Why is that? Because i'm mad? Bonkers? Well let me tell you something, the best people are.

By anon70723 — On Mar 16, 2010

ah, but the one answer anon mentions is by lewis carol in a post-edition from the original. and the "never" was also originally "never" being raven backward. the editors thought he made a slip, but didn't. oh jolly times

By anon70244 — On Mar 12, 2010

the answer is: they can both produce some notes, although they are both very flat, you can never put it with the wrong side up. or something like that; it's in the original book. i have almost finished through the looking glass. it is a very good book!

By cinder — On Mar 06, 2010

Ah those darn proofreaders. My little sister asked me this once. Since I am the family bibliophile everyone assumes I know the answer to everything.

I was immensely pleased with myself to haughtily answer "I haven't the slightest idea", which wasn't as well received as I had expected. My smug expression apparently implied to her that I knew the answer but was being a mean big sister and refusing to tell her.

Which resulted in a crying episode to mom about how I was being mean to her for no reason at all.

The end result was a weekend of detention because mom had never read the book and wouldn't believe me when I insisted that was really the answer!

I was pretty mad about it at the time but looking back I still feel a bit smug about my answer!

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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