Why did the chicken cross the road?

Why did the chicken cross the road?

“Why did the chicken cross the road?” is a common riddle joke, with the answer being “To get to the other side”. It is an example of anti-humor, in that the curious setup of the joke leads the listener to expect a traditional punchline, but they are instead given a simple statement of fact. “Why did the chicken cross the road?” has become iconic as an exemplary generic joke to which most people know the answer, and has been repeated and changed numerous times over the course of history.

Alternatively this is a pun. Crossing the street or road is likely to cause the chicken’s death and so it will be “on the other side”, a euphemism for death. Below you can find some of the most popular answers.

Buddha: Therefore, on the road there is no chicken, no road, nor perception of the road, nor impulse to cross it, nor consciousness of the road, no feathers, no beak, no clawed feet, no chicken. No road no chicken no crossing… only the great prajnaparamita of the empty form of chicken and the empty form of the road, and that emptiness; gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond. “But, O Buddha,” said Sariputta, “what is that crossing the road before us at this moment?” And the great One replied,”A chicken, Sariputta.” “But why, O great One, does it cross the road?” “To get to the other side, Sariputta.” Om.

Machiavelli: So that its subjects will view it with admiration, as a chicken which has the daring and courage to boldly cross the road, but also with fear, for whom among them has the strength to contend with such a paragon of avian virtue? In such a manner is the princely chicken’s dominion maintained.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: It didn’t cross the road; it transcended it.

Jean-Paul Sartre: In order to act in good faith and be true to itself, the chicken found it necessary to cross the road.

Darwin: It was the logical next step after coming down from the trees.

Carl Jung: The confluence of events in the cultural gestalt necessitated that individual chickens cross roads at this historical juncture, and therefore synchronicitously brought such occurrences into being.

Albert Einstein: Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road crossed the chicken depends upon your frame of reference.


All these answers remind us that there is not only the reality of the chicken, there is not only one answer to the problem of the chicken. As with many things in the world, it depends on the context – perspective, report, point of view, fundamental assumptions. This is important for innovative thinking, whether it is about chickens or the laws of the physical universe.


Sources: 1. WIKIPEDIA
2. https://bertc.com/subfour/truth/whydid.htm
3. Why Did the Chicken Cross the World? , David Perkins



Follow Me on Instagram