What Is My Thought Like? (“Why is a raven like a writing desk” – SOLVED?)

I recently acquired a book originally published in 1909, called “Games for The Playground, Home, School, and Gymnasium.”


This book is filled with lots of strange and interesting games for children. One that caught my attention is called: “What Is My Thought Like?”

You start with all players in a circle. One player thinks of a person, object, or abstraction without telling the other players what it is. This player then asks all the other players in turn, “What is my thought like?” Each player answers in any way they would like, for example a player could say, “Your thought is like an umbrella.”

Once everyone has said what the thought is “like”, the first player reveals what the thought was and then asks each player, “Why is (the object thought of) like (that player’s answer)”. For example, if the thought was a pencil the first player might say, “Why is a pencil like an umbrella?” Each player must then come up with a reason or pay a forfeit. A player might say to “Why is a pencil like an umbrella?”, “Because it is oftenest black”.

If a player happens to guess the thought, the first player must pay a forfeit.

This made me think of the famous riddle in Alice In Wonderland: “Why is a raven like a writing desk?”

The way it’s phrased is exactly as you’d ask in a game of “What Is My Thought Like?”. Maybe this “riddle” is actually a call back to an old children’s game. This riddle is said to have no right answer. This would make sense if it’s mean to challenge you to play the game and come up with your own.