- 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.
- a piece of writing containing many such representations.
Origin of rebus
rebus sic stantibus
- (of the duration of the binding force treaty) for as long as the relevant facts and circumstances remain basically the same.
Origin of rebus sic stantibus
Related Words for rebusriddle, conundrum, subtlety, question, enigma, secrecy, problem, thriller, mystery, dilemma, puzzle, quandary, complexity, teaser, puzzlement, mystification, perplexity, stickler, cliffhanger, twister
Examples from the Web for rebus
Historical Examples of rebus
A cask; the rebus of the final syllable TON in many surnames.The Handbook to English Heraldry
In the cases of these two gods we got the chiffre, and the rebus is still to seek.Studies in Central American Picture-Writing
Edward S. Holden
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
- 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
- a heraldic emblem or device that is a pictorial representation of or pun on the name of the bearer
Word Origin 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."