re-buses

rebus

[ree-buhs]
noun, plural rebuses.
1.
a representation of a word or phrase by pictures, symbols, etc., that suggest that word or phrase or its syllables: Two gates and a head is a rebus for Gateshead.
2.
a piece of writing containing many such representations.

Origin:
1595–1605; < Latin rēbus by things (ablative plural of rēs), in phrase nōn verbīs sed rēbus not by words but by things

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rebus (ˈriːbəs)
 
n , pl -buses
1.  a puzzle consisting of pictures representing syllables and words; in such a puzzle the word hear might be represented by H followed by a picture of an ear
2.  a heraldic emblem or device that is a pictorial representation of or pun on the name of the bearer
 
[C17: from French rébus, from the Latin rēbus by things, from res]

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Word Origin & History

rebus
1605, from L. rebus "by means of objects," ablative plural of res "thing, object," perhaps principally from the phrase de rebus quæ geruntur "of things which are going on," in reference to the satirical pieces composed by Picardy clerks at carnivals, subtle satires of current events using pictures
to suggest words, phrases or things. Or it may be from the representations being non verbis sed rebus "not by words, but by things."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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