Definition of rebus in English:


Syllabification: re·bus
Pronunciation: /ˈrēbəs

noun (plural rebuses)

  • 1A puzzle in which words are represented by combinations of pictures and individual letters; for instance, apex might be represented by a picture of an ape followed by a letter X.
    More example sentences
    • Similar to doing a rebus or crossword puzzle, it's a drawing of nine dots, and the challenge is to connect them without lifting the pen from the paper.
    • Just last week one of the words in the rebus puzzle was a cow plus a banjo minus the letter ‘M.’
    • Designs often took the form of pictorial puns and rebuses, or word puzzles.
  • 1.1 historical An ornamental device associated with a person to whose name it punningly alludes.
    More example sentences
    • Among the myriad rebuses on the aforementioned double-sided sheet at Windsor, there is an elaborate one on the verso that includes an image of a black yarnwinder.
    • For Leonardo, the double meaning of word-images in a rebus, like the deceptive vagaries and elusive nature of vision, must have made him acutely aware of the relativity of perception.
    • As layered rebuses of meaning with an exceptional iconographic density, they visually manipulated inherited codes of social value, adroitly invoking both positive and negative contemporary references.


early 17th century: from French rébus, from Latin rebus, ablative plural of res 'thing'.

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Pronunciation: ˌkələrəˈto͝orə
elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody