• synonyms


[ree-buh s]
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noun, plural re·bus·es.
  1. a representation of a word or phrase by pictures, symbols, etc., that suggest that word or phrase or its syllables: Two gates and a head is a rebus for Gateshead.
  2. a piece of writing containing many such representations.
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Origin of rebus

1595–1605; < Latin rēbus by things (ablative plural of rēs), in phrase nōn verbīs sed rēbus not by words but by things

rebus sic stantibus

[ree-buh s sik stan-tuh-buh s]
adverb International Law.
  1. (of the duration of the binding force treaty) for as long as the relevant facts and circumstances remain basically the same.
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Origin of rebus sic stantibus

First recorded in 1840–50, rebus sic stantibus is from the Latin word rēbus sīc stantibus with things remaining thus
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for rebus

Historical Examples

  • A cask; the rebus of the final syllable TON in many surnames.

    The Handbook to English Heraldry

    Charles Boutell

  • In the cases of these two gods we got the chiffre, and the rebus is still to seek.

  • Beckington's rebus (a beacon and a tun) occurs in the bosses.

  • The rebus of the master-mason, Hyndeley (a hind lying) occurs in the capitals.

  • One class was formed as were the canting arms in heraldry, that is, by a rebus.

    The Religious Sentiment

    Daniel G. Brinton

British Dictionary definitions for rebus


noun plural -buses
  1. a puzzle consisting of pictures representing syllables and words; in such a puzzle the word hear might be represented by H followed by a picture of an ear
  2. a heraldic emblem or device that is a pictorial representation of or pun on the name of the bearer
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Word Origin

C17: from French rébus, from the Latin rēbus by things, from res
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for rebus


c.1600, from Latin rebus "by means of objects," ablative plural of res "thing, object." According to French sources, principally from the phrase de rebus quæ geruntur "of things which are going on," in reference to the satirical pieces composed by Picardy clerks at carnivals, subtle satires of current events using pictures to suggest words, phrases or things. Or it may be from the representations being non verbis sed rebus "not by words, but by things." In either case from Latin res "thing."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper