The Rebus principle describes the use of images, sketches, symbols or characters as phonetic characters (phonograms) without regard to the basic interpretation of the symbol. The principle is found in many logographic writing systems based on word characters. Examples of such writing systems are the Chinese character script or the character script of the ancient Maya in Central America.
Rebus-like picture puzzles have a long tradition that goes back to the Middle Ages in Europe.
The term “rebus” comes from Latin and means something like “through things”. In the usual riddles, a series of images and signs, the wording and letters, are combined and abstracted to form one or more new words. The factual meaning of the images is irrelevant. The exchange, the omission or the addition of individual letters can also occur in the puzzles.
These changes add another requirement to working memory. The intermediate steps and their results must be remembered until the final solution word is found.
Even if the description seems a bit theoretical, the principle is quite catchy and easy to understand with an example.
Steps to solve the Rebus Picture Puzzles:
- Try to identify the images and symbols.
- Modify the word or name of each image according to the given operation: Skip, pick or change letters and remember the resulting word part.
- Combine the word parts from every picture in the given order to reveal the hidden word.
Samples of Rebus Picture Puzzles
Brain Puzzle 1
Let us start with an easy exercise:
Solution for Brain Puzzle 1
- Wall: WAL
- Knot: KO
- GUITAR: UT
Combining the word parts gives you: WALKOUT
Brain Puzzle 2
Here is shown an exercise with four pictures:
Solution for Brain Puzzle 2
- Snake: SKE
- Torch: TCH
- Robot: BO
- Sock: OK
The parts queue up to the result word: SKETCHBOOK
Links with more information
Remove Letters – Reveal the Word