Archer Taylor says that "we can probably say that riddling is a universal art" and cites riddles from hundreds of different cultures including Finnish, Hungarian, American Indian, Chinese, Russian, Dutch and Filipino sources amongst many others. Hamnett analyzes African riddling from an anthropological viewpoint.
Defining riddles precisely is hard and has attracted a fair amount of scholarly debate. One definition famous in Anglophone scholarship is that of Alan Dundes and Robert A. Georges: 'a riddle is a traditional verbal expression which contains one or more descriptive elements, a pair of which may be in opposition; the referent of the elements is to be guessed'. In some traditions and contexts, riddles may overlap with proverbs. Thus 'Nothing hurts it, but it groans all the time' can be deployed as a proverb (when its referent is a hypocrite) or as a riddle (when its referent is a pig). Source : Wikipedia
Puzzles are often devised as a form of entertainment but they can also arise from serious mathematical or logistical problems. In such cases, their solution may be a significant contribution to mathematical research.
Solutions of puzzles often require the recognition of patterns and the creation of a particular kind of order. Sometimes not because of how complicated and diagonal the pattern can get. People with a high level of inductive reasoning aptitude may be better at solving such puzzles than others. But puzzles based upon inquiry and discovery may be solved more easily by those with good deduction skills. Deductive reasoning improves with practice.
Some notable creators of puzzles are Sam Loyd, Henry Dudeney, Boris Kordemsky and, more recently, David J. Bodycombe, Will Shortz, Lloyd King, and Martin Gardner.
The 1989 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary dates the word puzzle (as a verb) to the end of the 16th century. Its first documented use (to describe a new type of game) was in a book titled The Voyage of Robert Dudley...to the West Indies, narrated by Capt. Wyatt, by himself, and by Abram Kendall, master (published circa 1595). The word later came to be used as a noun.
The word puzzle comes from pusle, meaning "bewilder, confound", which is a frequentive of the obsolete verb pose (from Medieval French aposer) in the sense of "perplex". The use of the word to mean "a toy contrived to test one's ingenuity" is relatively recent (within mid-19th century).
Source : Wikipedia