Creating a rebus puzzle is the art of combining images, letters and symbols to form words or phrases.
What are Rebus Puzzles
What would you understand if someone put in front of you a piece of paper with the picture of a bee, followed by the cryptic message + N on it? Why, that’s a rebus of the easiest type and the answer is been? What about H+ the picture of an ear? This has two possible answers, equally easy – hear or here. You get the idea.
We use rebuses in our modern messaging systems, CU is such an example, and so is K9 for canine.
The basic principle behind rebuses is the use of pictograms and symbols to transform them into phonograms, to create new words. If you see the picture of an eye in a rebus it has nothing to do with seeing, it stands for I.
Want an example of a sentence fully made of images? ‘eye—can—sea—ewe’ reads I can see you.
The history of Rebus Puzzles
Rebuses are so old nobody knows when they first appeared. However, many linguists believe that this process of using drawings to represent sounds was fundamental to the development of language. They say the Chinese alphabet was probably derived from this picture to sound technique, which is also evident when you look at Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. If you’ve ever seen one of those memes saying we’re reinventing hieroglyphs, know that’s not accurate – emojis are ideograms, not pictograms.
Rebuses were frequently used in the Middle Ages in heraldry, knights and noblemen paying handsome prices to those who could come up with clever ideas to represent their name or the name of their estate using pictograms.
Rebuses were sometimes used to teach the Holy Bible to children who were to young to read, while missionaries in Latin America made use of pictograms to teach the Lord’s Prayer to the natives, in Latin, nonetheless.
Rebuses were also very popular in Japan and even today they are still used, most notably on corporate logos.
The ancient rebus has adapted well to modern times, such puzzles being featured in many TV game shows. Also, you can find on the Internet so-called guessing games that use pictures to represent in a visual manner common phrases, book or movie titles etc.