50 Trivia Questions Only Geniuses Will Get Right
From tricky riddles to U.S. trivia to mind-boggling math puzzles, see how you fare against these challenging trivia questions.
Answer: B. Maine
Maine shares a border only with New Hampshire (and Canada). Maine also has another distinction as well—it’s the only state with a one-syllable name. Here’s some trivia you never knew about each of the 50 states.
Trivia question #2:
Name the number that is three more than one-fifth of one-tenth of one-half of 5,000.
Answer: C. 53
Work backward! Half of 5,000 is 2,500. One-tenth of that is 250. One-fifth of that is 50. Add three, and you’ve got your answer.
Answer: B. 21
Each number is the previous two numbers added together. The eighth number is the sixth and seventh numbers—8 and 13—added together. If you can figure these trivia questions out, see if you can solve this tricky math puzzle.
Trivia question #4:
A. Istanbul, Turkey
B. Athens, Greece
D. Damascus, Syria
Answer: D. Damascus, Syria
Evidence of civilization in Damascus dates all the way back to 9000 BC. Do you know what the oldest city in the United States is?
Trivia question #5:
Two people are standing back to back. They each walk away from each other for three feet. Then they both turn left and walk for another four feet, and then stop. Now, how many feet apart are they standing?
Answer: A. 10
If you remember the a2 + b2 = c2 rule from math class, that’s what’ll help you solve this problem. This rule states that if you have a triangle, the sum of the squares of the two shorter sides equals the square of the longest side. And in this problem, the walkers’ paths form parts of triangles. You may want a pencil and paper to “draw out” this problem and visualize the triangles.
Draw two lines labeled “three feet” for the distance they walk away from each other. Then draw two lines labeled “four feet,” going in opposite directions, for the distance they walked after their left turns. Now draw a line connecting the points at the ends of those lines (representing where the people are now). This line represents the distance you’re trying to figure out.
Now, you’ve got two triangles touching at the corners. Two sides of each are 3 feet and 4 feet (the distances each person walked). The unknown sides represent two halves of the distance you’re trying to find. So break out that Pythagorean Theorem: Three is a, 4 is b. 32 + 42 = 9 + 16 = 25 = c2. Take the square root of 25 and you get 5, which is the longest side of these mini-triangles. Five feet is half of the distance between the people. Five times two is ten! Here’s another three-sided puzzler: Try to figure out how many triangles are in this image.
Trivia question #6:
You’re trapped in a room with two doors. Only one door will lead you out of the room safely, but you don’t know which. A guard stands in front of each door. One guard always lies, the other always tells the truth, but you don’t know which is which. You can only ask one guard one question. What question do you ask, and what do you do once the guard has answered?
A. “Which is the safe door?” Go through the door the guard tells you.
B. “Which is the safe door?” Go through the other door.
C. “If I were to ask the other guard which was the safe door, which door would s/he say?” Go through that door.
D. “If I were to ask the other guard which was the safe door, which door would s/he say?” Go through the other door.
Answer: D. “If I were to ask the other guard which was the safe door, which door would s/he say?” Go through the other door.
If you chose the lying guard, the lying guard is telling you the door that the truthful guard would not say is safe. If you chose the truthful guard, the truthful guard is telling you the door that the lying guard would say is safe. Either way, the door the guard responds with is not the safe door. Go through the other door and you’re out! If you got that one right, you might be ready to try to solve 25 of the toughest riddles ever.
Trivia question #8:
The United States animal is a bald eagle… but in this context, “bald” doesn’t mean “hairless.” The “bald” part of the bird’s name comes from an Old English word meaning what?
Answer: D. White
These majestic birds were named for their white feathers… not for their round, smooth heads that kind of make them look bald. Here’s some more fascinating trivia about America.
Trivia question #9:
Lizzie, Isaac, Justine, and Mike each bought a different dessert. One of them bought a cupcake; one bought a doughnut; one bought a brownie; one bought ice cream. One spent $1; one spent $2; one spent $3; and one spent $4. Using the set of clues below, who bought the ice cream?
- CLUE 1: Lizzie spent more money than Justine.
- CLUE 2: Justine bought the brownie.
- CLUE 3: Of the person who spent $1 and the person who spent $4, one of them was Lizzie and the other one bought the doughnut.
- CLUE 4: The person who bought the cupcake, the person who bought the brownie, the person who spent $2, and Isaac are all different people.
Who bought the ice cream?
Answer: D. Mike
- We know (because of Clue 3) that Lizzie spent either $1 or $4. Because of Clue 1, we also know Lizzie spent more money than Justine, which means Lizzie can’t have spent $1 (the lowest amount). So Lizzie spent $4. Because of Clue 3, this means that the person who did spend $1 bought the doughnut.
- Clue 2 says that Justine bought the brownie. Because of Clue 4, we then know that Justine didn’t spend $2, since the $2-spender and the brownie-buyer are not the same person. We also know that Isaac didn’t buy the cupcake (or the brownie) or spend $2.
- Therefore, since we already know Lizzie spent $4, Mike is the only one who could have spent $2.
- Since the $1-spender and the doughnut-buyer are the same person, this has to be Isaac—he’s now the only one who doesn’t have either dessert or money accounted for yet.
- That leaves Justine having spent $3.
- Clue 4 says that the person who spent $2 and the person who bought the cupcake are not the same. Since Mike spent the $2, Lizzie must have bought the cupcake.
- This leaves us with our answer: Mike bought the ice cream!
If you figured that out, reward yourself with your dessert of choice. Oh, and you might be ready to tackle this logic puzzle invented by Albert Einstein himself.
Trivia question #10:
Once you work out the answer, see if you can figure out which letter never appears in any U.S. state name.
Trivia question #11:
If you take away one letter, you’re left with twelve. What is the word?
(ANSWER TO BONUS QUESTION: Louisiana)
“Dozens” is a six-letter word. Take away the “s,” and you have “dozen,” another word for “twelve.” (We never said it was twelve letters!) If you can find the missing word in this logic puzzle, you might be a genius.
Since the second digit is six times the first, the second digit must be 6, because it’s the only number that is still a single digit and is divisible by six. (It couldn’t be 0 either, because the second digit is six times the first digit, which would make the first digit 0, impossible for a four-digit number.) Once you’ve figured that out, you can figure out that the first digit is 1, the last digit is 4, and the third digit is 9.
Trivia question #13:
James’s mom has four children. Their names are April, May, June, and ______?
Don’t let the sequential month names fool you. It’s James’s mother, so James has to be one of the four children. Did we get you with this one?! Want to test your genius even further? Try out this Mensa quiz full of tricky trivia questions that will test your IQ.
Answer: D. 300 million
You probably already knew that dogs’ senses of smell were unbelievable, but you may not have realized just how unbelievable they were until a number was put to it! According to Samantha Schwab, Resident Pet Expert at Chewy, dogs “have up to 300 million smell receptors, while human noses only have 5 million, according to petMD.” Kind of makes you feel silly for complaining about the smell of leftover fish in the fridge.
Answer: B. 6
A perfect number is a weird designation. Basically, it means that the number’s positive divisors—for 6, that’s 1, 2, and 3—add up to the number: 1+2+3=6. Perfect numbers are rarer than you might think. The first four are 6, 28, 496, and 8128. Learn these 12 easy math tricks you’ll wish you’d known.
Answer: D. 15
King George III, who reigned from 1760 until 1820, had a long and fruitful marriage with his wife, Queen Charlotte (formerly, Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz). All told, they had 15 children, the only legitimate children of King George III; their offspring produced two Kings of England—George IV and William IV. Here are 23 rarely seen royal family photographs from history.
Answer: D. 6
While King George III had many legitimate heirs, King George IV left none. Here’s what it took to make Victoria the Queen:
- The death of Princess Charlotte of Wales, the King’s daughter, who had been the heir presumptive. She died in 1817 at the age of 21.
- The next in line for the throne was Prince Frederick, Duke of York, but he died in 1827 with no legitimate children.
- That left the throne to Prince William, Duke of Clarence, who became King William IV in 1831.
- When he died in 1837, he had no legitimate living children because his two legitimate daughters, Princess Charlotte Augusta Louisa of Clarence and Princess Elizabeth of Clarence had died in infancy.
- The death of George IV and William IV’s younger brother, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. He passed away in 1820 shortly after the birth of his daughter Princess Alexandrina Victoria in 1819.
Trivia question #19:
What is the maximum number of words that a single dog can understand?
Answer: D. 200
According to Nikki Naser, Resident Pet Expert at Chewy, an overachieving pup named Rico learned the names of 200 different objects in 2004 and was able to retrieve them upon hearing their names. Rico was a Border Collie. Not all dogs are as skilled as Rico, but all dogs have some pretty awesome “superpowers”!
Trivia question #20:
A. To read or examine something carefully.
B. To read or examine something in a perfunctory manner.
C. To read or examine something in the customarily accepted manner.
D. To read or examine something in a preliminary manner.
Answer: A. To read or examine something carefully.
When someone says they’re going to “peruse” something, it’s often assumed they are going to skim it. In fact, if they mean what they say, their plan is to review the document with care. Check out 70 words (and phrases) you might be using wrong.
Answer: C. John Tyler
John Tyler fathered 15 children, more than any other U.S. President. He had eight with his first wife. When she passed away, he married his second wife, with whom he had seven children. Don’t fall for these 8 presidential “facts” that just aren’t true.
Trivia question #22:
A. Harry S. Truman
B. Ulysses S. Grant
C. Benjamin Harrison
D. Rutherford B. Hayes
Answer: A. Harry S. Truman
President Harry S. Truman, born in 1884, was the last U.S. President not to have earned a college degree. After graduating from high school in 1901, Truman enrolled in Spalding’s Commercial College to study bookkeeping, shorthand, and typing but never finished. His first foray into politics was as an elected judge, then a senator, and then he was selected to be President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Vice President in 1945. When Roosevelt died after only 88 days into his record fourth term in office, Truman served the rest of the term and then was re-elected and served another term until 1953.
Trivia question #23:
A. Charles Lindbergh
B. William T. Colbert
C. Amelia Earhart
D. Charlie J. Wright
Answer: A. Charles Lindbergh
Charles Lindbergh made the first solo trans-Atlantic flight in 1927. Amelia Earhart was the second person, and the first female, to make that solo trip, which she did in 1932. Don’t miss these other female firsts from history.
Answer: B. Sophie Blanchard
Sophie Blanchard was also the first woman to pilot a hot-air balloon. She learned how from her husband, who died of a heart attack beside Sophie while she was piloting a balloon. Blanchard herself died in a ballooning accident in 1819, after her balloon caught fire and crashed to the ground. Raymonde de Laroche, the first woman to earn her airplane pilot license, died 100 years later to the month when the plane she was piloting crash-landed at La Crotoy Airfield in France.
Answer: B. 1
On January 23, 1959, nine college kids and their 30-something tour-guide set out for a 21-day hiking excursion that would culminate in the thrill of skiing down Mount Otorten in the Ural Mountains of what was then the USSR. Only one of the ten returned, 21-year old Yuri Yudin, who’d left the group on January 28 due to stomach flu. What happened on that mountain is one of history’s most bizarre unsolved mysteries.
Trivia question #26:
A. Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla
B. Mexico’s independence from the French
C. The end of the French occupation of Mexico in 1867
D. Mexico’s independence from the United States
Answer: A. Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla
The Franco-Mexican War began when the French invaded Mexico—at Veracruz—in 1861. France’s intention was to establish dominance in Mexico while the United States was preoccupied with the Civil War and then to provide military support to the Confederate cause. Cinco de Mayo celebrates an important military victory during the Franco-Mexican War, but the war continued, as did France’s occupation of Mexico, until 1867. Here are 12 little-known facts about Cinco de Mayo.
Answer: C. Holiday Inn
Holiday Inn was released in 1942 and featured this famous Irving Berlin song. It wasn’t until 1954 that the film White Christmas came out, piggybacking on the success of the song by the same name that had spent 11 weeks at the top of the Billboard charts in 1942; it’s sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. Here are some more pop culture trivia questions you only think you know the answer to.
Answer: B. Two years old
That’s right, your pup’s intelligence is on par with that of a small toddler! And it turns out dogs don’t age seven human years for every dog year, either.
Trivia question #29:
What was the first show to win an Emmy award for Outstanding Children’s Program?
A. The Huckleberry Hound Show
B. Felix the Cat
C. Tom and Jerry
D. The Ruff and Reddy Show
Answer: A. The Huckleberry Hound Show
This show, which debuted in 1958 and won the award in 1960, was one of the fledgling TV productions of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. This cartoonist duo would go on to create such iconic characters as the Flintstones, Yogi Bear, and Scooby-Doo. If you knew this, check out these other trivia questions that test your knowledge of classic cartoons.
Answer: C. The New Yardbirds
The fledgling band chose the name they’d become famous with after a couple of members of The Who gossiped that their band would sink like a zeppelin filled with lead. The band took that in stride, calling themselves Led Zeppelin (removing the “a” in “lead” so people wouldn’t pronounce it “leed”). How’s that for an ironic “failure” of people who became wildly successful?
Trivia question #31:
What comic book character did Michael Jackson want to play so much that he considered buying Marvel Comics in the 1990s?
B. The Hulk
C. Professor X
Answer: D. Spider-Man
The King of Pop as the Webslinger?! It could’ve happened, according to Stan Lee himself. Before Marvel started developing the massively popular films of their Cinematic Universe, and even before the Spider-Man trilogy of the early 2000s, Jackson, a bit of a super-fan, apparently wanted to play the part of Spider-Man to make it more of a “cinematic property,” so much so that he even considered purchasing the studio. Since Lee didn’t share this bit of news until after Jackson’s death in 2009 it’s not clear exactly why he never went through with it, but we’re just fine with Tom Holland’s version.
Trivia question #32:
In what country do people who donate blood receive a text message thanking them when the blood is used?
Answer: B. Sweden
In 2015, the Internet delighted in the news of a new system that sent Swedish blood donors a text message telling them that their blood was given. Sadly, though, recently Sweden has been experiencing a blood shortage in its metropolitan areas, so blood donors are more needed than ever.
Answer: C. Turquoise
You’ll find the oft-Instagrammed Turquoise Arches in the Grand Canyon State. But this Sedona McDonald’s didn’t just feel like being different; the city as a whole, which boasts some of America’s most incredible red rock formations, has rules in place to prevent any buildings or signage from clashing with the natural beauty. The color turquoise was chosen as a softer alternative to French fry yellow.
Trivia question #34:
What fruit did many people in the Western world think was poisonous until 1820?
Answer: C. Tomatoes
Largely thanks to one man, John Gerard, and his 1597 book The Generall Historie of Plantes, much of Great Britain, and later the United States believed that eating tomatoes could be deadly. (Tomatoes contain a not-enough-to-actually-be-toxic amount of a substance called tomatine.) This myth persisted until another man, Robert Johnson, very publicly ate a basket of tomatoes in front of a New Jersey courthouse in 1820. When they didn’t kill him, people had to acknowledge that tomatoes were in fact safe. Learn more fun United States facts you didn’t learn in school that will make great trivia questions.
Trivia question #35:
How many different characters does Tom Hanks play in the 2004 Christmas movie The Polar Express?
Answer: B. 5
In addition to playing the (unnamed) male main character, Hanks also voices his father, the hilariously unpredictable conductor, the mysterious train-hopping hobo, and none other than Santa Claus.
Trivia question #36:
Netflix founder Reed Hastings claimed (possibly falsely) that he thought of the idea for his company after receiving a $40 late fee from Blockbuster. What was the movie he said he failed to return?
A. The Shawshank Redemption
B. Raiders of the Lost Ark
C. The Silence of the Lambs
D. Apollo 13
Answer: D. Apollo 13
Though the accuracy of the story has come into question, it’s something of a legend that Hastings’ late fee for Apollo 13 was the last straw. He came up with the idea for a mail-order DVD service, and an entertainment behemoth was born. And Netflix’s original name is also trivia questions–worthy: It was originally called “Kibble”!
Trivia question #37:
What U.S. state’s constitution did Congress forget to ratify when they granted it statehood, an omission only fixed 150 years later?
Answer: A. Ohio
Oops! Though officially the 17th state in the Union, Ohio’s state constitution didn’t get formally ratified until 1953—which would make it the 48th! Luckily, Ohio’s request for statehood had been approved when it was supposed to be, in 1803, and that was good enough for most people. It was Ohio representative George H. Bender who eventually pushed to get the constitution ratified once and for all. These other strangest facts about every U.S. state are also strange, but true.
Trivia question #38:
Sea urchins got their name from what non-aquatic animal, which was known as an “urchin” until the 15th century?
Answer: B. Hedgehog
Can you see the resemblance?! Sea urchins were so named because of their spiny similarities to the hedgehog, which didn’t start going by that name until the 1400s. Hedgehogs were originally called “urchins,” from the Middle English “urchoun.”
Answer: D. Tigger
Go ahead and add “tries to save lives” to the list of the wonderful things about Tiggers! Paul Winchell, the voice actor behind the bouncy tiger in 1977’s The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, also tried his hand at inventing. He held over 30 patents, the most astonishing of which might be an artificial heart. He teamed up with doctors at the University of Utah to create the device, which was never transplanted into a human body but did help inspire future innovations.
Answer: B. Second
According to the National League of Cities, “Second” is in fact the first most common street name in the country. “Third” is the second most popular, and “First” is third! (Confused yet?!) As common as it might seem, “Main” is down at seventh! But the most popular street name in your state is a whole different story.
Trivia question #41:
The son of which famous author successfully wrote stories for ten years before revealing who his father was to the public?
A. Stephen King
B. James Patterson
C. Dan Brown
D. Tom Clancy
Answer: A. Stephen King
Stephen King’s son, Joseph Hillström King, goes by the pen name Joe Hill. Under it, he wrote several short stories and a novel, all while choosing to “[keep] his father’s identity firmly under wraps,” per the Telegraph, so that he wouldn’t get preferential treatment. His father’s identity leaked in 2007, but he’d already made a name for himself.
Answer: B. Made it illegal to sell alcohol on Sundays
The Raines Law was one of the precursors to Prohibition. It tried to keep Sundays dry, but it didn’t stop New Yorkers from finding a few loopholes. Hotels were still allowed to serve alcohol with meals, which led many establishments to hastily throw together sub-par sandwiches so that they were *technically* still following the law. Though B was correct for this question, all of the other choices actually are still odd liquor laws that exist or have existed in the United States!
Trivia question #43:
What comic strip’s joke name for the row of spikes on a stegosaurus’ tail, the “thagomizer,” ended up becoming the official name?
A. Non Sequitur
B. The Far Side
D. The Family Circus
Answer: B. The Far Side
The comic strip in question featured a caveman tutoring other cavemen in stegosaurus anatomy and implied that the row of spikes was “named” after another caveman named Thag who’d had an unfortunate run-in with them. A paleontologist at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science started using the term, in 1993 (11 years after the comic came out), and it stuck.
Trivia question #44:
What unusual substance was the primary ingredient in the laxatives Louis & Clark brought on their expedition?
Answer: A. Mercury
You better believe it. And as if that fact alone weren’t enough, historians can actually track the path of their journey, even today, by following mercury deposits, since mercury doesn’t decompose! Add mercury laxatives to the list of disturbing historical facts you’ll wish weren’t true.
Answer: D. Montana
In addition to Alabama, Hawaii, and Utah, the states of Alaska, Nevada, and Mississippi also don’t sell lottery tickets (though Mississippi plans to debut a lottery by the end of 2019). That’s right, Nevada doesn’t allow the lottery—despite it being the gambling capital of the United States! The theory goes that the casinos don’t want the competition. Go figure.
Trivia question #46:
Which U.S. president pardoned all Vietnam War draft dodgers on his second day in office?
A. Gerald Ford
B. Jimmy Carter
C. Bill Clinton
D. George H. W. Bush
Answer: B. Jimmy Carter
If you guessed Ford, you were on the right track—Ford offered “conditional amnesty” to some of the draft dodgers, but it was Carter who granted them an unconditional pardon, fulfilling a campaign promise. Learn more surprising facts you never knew about U.S. presidents.
Trivia question #47:
Distant relatives of Walt Disney own a _____ company in France that sometimes teams up with Disney on marketing.
Answer: B. Dairy
Long story short, Walt Disney’s ancestors hailed from a village in France called Isigny-sur-Mer. (The name “Disney” is actually an anglicized version of “D’Isigny,” or “from Isigny”!) This village is famous for its dairy farms. This year, they actually promoted their connection with a cool “From D’Isigny to Disney” marketing campaign, complete with Mickey Mouse–themed cheese packaging!
Answer: C. Mary Somerville
How’s that for some women’s empowerment? Somerville, a largely self-taught astronomer, geologist, and mathematician, wrote a treatise, On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences. In 1834, a scientific historian named William Whewell read it (Somerville was 53 at the time), and realized it would be quite inaccurate to call her a “man of science” in his review. So the word “scientist” was born. Here are some more amazing women in history you probably haven’t heard of—but should.
Trivia question #49:
Robin likes chicken but not steak, brownies but not pie, and apples but not grapes. According to the same rule, will she like stew or chili?
Trivia question #50:
Which early U.S. president considered funding an expedition to the center of the Earth?
A. Thomas Jefferson
B. James Monroe
C. John Quincy Adams
D. John Tyler
Answer: C. John Quincy Adams
Before Jules Verne, there was John Quincy Adams! It’s perhaps not something he’d like to be remembered for, but the sixth president actually approved such an expedition. Back then (the early 19th century), it was still a fairly common belief that the Earth was hollow, and one army officer was particularly thrilled by the idea of exploring its interior. President Adams was in favor of letting him but was voted out of office before the plan could gain any traction.
Even if you didn’t get all of these trivia questions correct, you certainly now have quite the arsenal of quirky fun facts! Ready for even more? Check out these 100 fascinating facts about (practically) everything.