What are Rebus Puzzles Everything You Must Know

Rebus puzzles are puzzle devices that combine the use of an illustrated picture or diagram with individual alphabets to depict a particular word or phrase. For example, for a simple idea, three salmon fishes are used to denote the surname “Salmon.” Rebus is a picture coded version of puzzles and is used nowadays to solve riddles and other challenges. Another type of rebus puzzles includes puzzles with numbers and words arranged in such a way that it gives an idea of what the outcome might be. These puzzles fall under the Wordplay section of the English language is a fun take on literature. 

History of Rebus:

In linguistics, the principle of a rebus puzzle is to use existing symbols like pictograms and diagrams to represent some new word or phrase, which is just dependant on their sounds regardless of their exact meaning. This principle of rebus was adapted and used by many ancient writing methods.

They used to represent their writings with the help of various abstract pictures or symbols. Many theories suggest that the Chinese developed their writing methods from this rebus principle, and again, this type of pictorial cryptics is seen in the writings of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. This method of using pictures to indicate a particular word or phrase was in use at Abydos that dates back to the 3400 BCE.

Examples of Some Rebus Puzzles:

Some Rebus puzzles with words are:

  • 1,2,3,4,5,6,,,,38,39,40 LIFE which means “life begins at 40.”
  • FAREDCE, which means “red in the face.”
  • JOBINJOB, which means “in-between jobs.”

Some Rebus puzzles with numbers are:

  • L + 8 = late
  • 2 + L = tool
  • 4 + T = fort

Some Rebus puzzles with pictures:

  •  F + (picture of an ear) = fear
  • D + (picture of a light) = delight

How to Solve Rebus Puzzles:

The following steps give an explanation of the ways a Rebus puzzle can be solved:

Position in the Rebus Puzzle:

One of the easiest and common approaches to solving a rebus puzzle is to look at the positioning. The distance between the words, letters, numbers, or symbols present in the given a hint.

Highlighting in the Rebus Puzzle:

Sometimes some symbols or letters are highlights in the puzzle’s hint. Suppose an arrow is pointing at a picture or a particular word is in bold lettering.

Direction Present in the Rebus Puzzle:

Sometimes some words spelling are in a different direction left to right in the English language. Another way of presenting words in a rebus puzzle is by placing them in up to down or down to up, and also diagonal positions.

Size in the Rebus Puzzle:

Some rebus puzzles have words with different sizes like big, small, wide or skinny, etc. which indicate another word or hint to the solution. 

Numbers in the rebus puzzle:

Some rebus puzzles use numbers in place of words that sound similar in the English language. For example, 2 can be “to” or “too” again 4 may be “for.”

Colors in the Rebus Puzzle:

These colored letters or words might indicate some name that has that color’s name in it. Some words have different spellings.

Styles in the Words of a Rebus Puzzle:

Some words or symbols in the puzzle might be present in some other font type such as bold, italics, tall, short, or underlined. These indicate the different meanings of the word and give a hint to solve the puzzle.

Sound Present in a Rebus Puzzle:

There are some rebus puzzles that are phonologically cryptic, which means it will sound very close to the solution of the puzzle. For example, a puzzle is given as “222222 days”, here the first part of the puzzle is a bunch of twos, so the sound of twos is similar to that of “Tues” which is followed by “day,” hence the answer is “Tuesday.”

Images Present in a Rebus Puzzle:

Many rebus puzzles have an image or diagrammatical representation of the solution. Be familiar with the images in the puzzle to solve it.


The meaning of the word rebus is simply the use of a pictogram to represent the sound of some syllables. This, therefore, turns pictograms into phonograms (pictures representing a particular sound). This process of writing was in many historical writing systems from Japanese, Chinese, and also Egyptian writings. 

This writing method got popularize in the 18th century and then continue to be popular even in the 19th century. Lewis Carroll was responsible for making this rebus writing change into the present rebus puzzle. He wrote children’s books which had these pictograms and phonograms; his books also had nonsense or silly letters and looking-glass letters which when you hold it in front of a mirror. These rebus letters served as a sort of a coded language or served as a past time for many back in the day. 

These rebus letters are now popularly familar as rebus puzzles, and they play a pretty tight role in the lives of children’s and adults in today’s time. Many online games have rebus puzzles that help children to better their IQ. Again many play these games just for the fun of it. Puzzles are also widely in the entertainment area as well. Many reality TV shows and other game shows have challenges and game levels where the contestants have to solve a certain rebus puzzle to win the game or go to the next round. So it can be said that rebus puzzles are challenging puzzles that help you strengthen your brain cells and also be a favorite past time for many others. 

See also: Top 10 Best and Latest Free Puzzle Games in 2019

About the Author: John Watson

Hello mates! I'm John and I absolutely love playing with words. I can eat, sleep and breathe it! That's the primary reason for starting this website, that I can share the cool information that I have learnt about words and vocabulary over the years. Hope you like it. ^_^

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