Rebus is a Latin word "Non Verbis Sed Rebus" which means “without words by means of things or objects”. In short, it represents a word or syllable by a picture of an object the name of which resembles in sound the represented word or syllable.It is the sort of hieroglyphic puzzles which usually the pictures or words that are arranged so that it often represent the intended meaning in a very pun manners(same sound,different meaning).
The first known book of rebus puzzles "Les Bigarurres du Seigneur des Accords" was published in France in the mid-1500s by poet Etienne Tabouro.
In Europe, rebuses often appeared on designs of coats of arms, family mottoes, personal seals, and ultimately in games or riddles. A visual pun or rebus used in heraldry is called canting heraldry. For an example, Princess Beatrice of York’s coat of arms includes three bees, or bees, thrice which are puns to her name. Bea - Rhyming with bees and three bees are same meaning as thrice , therefore her coat of arms design to signify her name Beatrice (or Bees-thrice) . See Fig 1
In Far East, especially in China and Korea, rebus symbols were commonly employed to carry auspicious wishes.
As seen in the picture below, the character "Fu"/福 or fortune/wealth are intentionally pasted upside down . The word upside down "Dao"/倒 also have similar sounding but another meaning as "Dao"/到 "already reached". Therefore by pasting in this position, it literally meant that fortune already reached. See Fig 2
At a typical Chinese weddings, one of the rebus you may noticed are seeing the 喜喜 on the wedding decorations which meaning "Happiness Happiness" which can be interpreted as "Double Happiness". This meant that the newlywed will enjoy double happiness See Fig 3
In the middle 19th century to the 20th century, especially in United States, rebuses are more common ranging from business cards See Fig 4 , hieroglyphics bible See Fig 5 which of the purpose to encourage the small children to picking up and read ;and even courtship cards See Fig 6
In the mordern days, when we are using the smartphones to sent text with emojis, we are using rebus.
Here are the some of the example of rebus used (The bracket denotes the shortform text used before emoji are introduced) :
Rolling of the floor laughing (ROFL) :
Hug with kisses (XOXO) :
In the business area, successful brands are using their logos (which uses rebus) to represent the branding itself ; one of the examples are Apple Inc are using their logo of eaten apple , Royal Dutch Shell using logo of shell with bright red and yellow shell to reflect their brands. Another good examples are the IBM which uses the rebus of eye bee and M during 80's for their corporate logo. See Fig 7
How to solve rebuses ?
There are many types of rebuses, whereas it is shown below:
It requires lateral thinking for solving many of the rebuses
Below are the few samples of the rebus puzzles.
Sound sounding rebus
One of the example is the familiar English rebus frequently used is the debtor’s “I.O.U,” stands for “I owe you.
The other examples are "CCCCCCC" which stands for 7 seas.
Images only in rebus
This is one of the common type of rebuses, where purely images are shown to represent its meaning;
For example the picture shown on the left shows a tin can with a label stick on it resembling a pair of eyes.
The label "eyes" rhymes very closely enough with "I" (pun for eyes) plus and the tin can itself represent "can", therefore the rebus's meaning can be meant "i can".
Images with words in rebus
There are also rebuses with combinations of both words and pictures as shown;
For example "eye" are literally beneath/below the word "stand", one of the ways we can link the meaning of rebuses in such a way is "eye under the stand". Hence, to think this figuratively is "understand". As same as with above examples, "eyes" as per mentioned above rhymes with word "I" . With this rebus arrangement, the "I" is "under" the "stand" .
Therefore the rebus meant : "i understand"
Words in rebus
Another example, the rebuses can be formed purely by words but arranged / styling such that it resembled its pun meaning. It shows that the alphabet S is the tallest alphabet (in terms of sizes) inside the word and progresses becoming shorter and shorter until alphabet Y become shortest alphabet. Also we could see the word "make" are literally pressing down the word story to "short" the word.
Therefore based on the example above, it literally meant : "make long story short"
Test your rebus Use small letter words for all of the rebus below.