What is the history of rebus puzzles?

Well, the word rebus comes from the Latin res, which can be translated by using the word thing. It refers to the representation of names, words or phrases with the aid of images or composition of letters. It is believed that this particular word came from the popular Latin expression Non verbis sed rebus, which signifies Without words, but with the aid of things.

During our world’s history, several forms of rebus representations were used for transmitting information or simply for fun. The earliest form of rebus it is considered to be the picturesque letter, for which abstract words that were difficult to express in a sentence, were shown in the form of images, whose names were pronounced the same way. Puzzles were popular during the Middle Ages, as we can observe them on buildings or objects of ownership to depict names.

Yet during the XV century in France rebus puzzles were used as riddles or jokes and were named rebus specials. Mainly, these riddles featured libels that court clowns used to amuse people during the annual carnival. The sixteenth century came with a type of rebus puzzle similar to the ones we use today. The nature of the rebus changed and led to an intriguing name: pun pun. Usually, it referred to a set of images of distinct items mingled with letters, number or musical notes.


What are the funniest facts about rebus puzzles?


#1 Rebus puzzles are extremely popular in Japanese Culture

Even though this game firstly gained popularity in France, in Japan they were even more popular than anywhere else in the world. Named hanjimono, the Japanese rebus puzzles stood out due to the fact that Kabuki actors would wear costumes based on rebus principles. This was of great aid when actors sought to communicate their guild names. Still, nowadays important Japanese firms use rebus puzzles in their logos, following the ancient tradition.


#2 Rebus puzzles were a common teaching practice for kids in the 1800s

Did you know that one of the most sought books back in the 1700s was the one named A curious Hieroglyphic Bible? Well, it was meant to teach children everything they needed to know about the Bible and it made use of over 500 rebus puzzles, just to stir everyone’s imagination.


#3 Rebus puzzles led to the appearance of various tv game shows

Even though the first puzzles were used for entertainment dates back to the Middle Ages and the court-related fun, during the modern era those rebuses led to the appearance of entertainment tv show.

The first documented rebus puzzled themed tv show was a US one named The Rebus Game. It appeared back in 1965 and it required for the competitors to find ways to communicate clues only by using rebus puzzles.


Yet, no matter how they are designed and used, rebus puzzles turn out to be a great aid when it comes to expanding and challenging your mind. This practice is viewed as the best brain exercise that can better creative thinking, which is the main reason why more and more teachers opt for using rebus puzzles as educational tools.