rebus

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noun re·bus \ˈrē-bəs\

Definition of rebus

  1. :  a representation of words or syllables by pictures of objects or by symbols whose names resemble the intended words or syllables in sound; also :  a riddle made up of such pictures or symbols

rebus was our Word of the Day on 05/19/2017. Hear the podcast!

Did You Know?

A rebus communicates its message by means of pictures or symbols whose names sound like various parts of a word, phrase, or sentence. For example, a picture of a can of tomatoes, followed by the letters UC and a picture of a well means "Can you see well?" In Latin, the word rebus means "by things;" rebus is a form of the Latin word res, which means "thing." English speakers started using the word rebus for picture writing in the early 1600s.

Illustration of rebus

Origin and Etymology of rebus

Latin, by things, ablative plural of res thing — more at real


First Known Use: 1605


REBUS Defined for English Language Learners

rebus

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noun

Definition of rebus for English Language Learners

  • : a riddle or puzzle made up of letters, pictures, or symbols whose names sound like the parts or syllables of a word or phrase


REBUS Defined for Kids

rebus

play
noun re·bus \ˈrē-bəs\

Definition of rebus for Students

  1. :  a riddle or puzzle made up of letters, pictures, and symbols whose names sound like the syllables and words of a phrase or sentence I C U is a rebus.


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