🦌 Readers:

I missed my biweekly post last week. Did you miss me? Because I am

I have a penchant for brainteasers. As a young child, I relished grade-school word search puzzles and math brain twisters. My proclivity for brainteasers is unbounded—from riddles to The Atlantic crosswords to sudokuyou name it, I probably pondered over it.

I am that friend who you can count on appreciating your nerdy math T-shirts (“√-1 23 π and it was delicious” on March 14th) or your use of contextually appropriate puns in daily life—how about pancakes with abs (aka waffles)? And yes, I delight in receiving quirky cards that make me laugh, ranging from friends thanking me a bunch with smiling bananas to reminding me that I am the mac to their cheese.

This summer, I have spent more time indoors than outdoors, venturing out only for necessary reasons. In my plethora of spare time, I have been spending some time solving a certain type of brainteasers that I dearly loved as a child. (And to be perfectly frank, these puzzles are not necessarily easier since becoming an adult).


Merriam Webster defines a rebus as “a representation of words or syllables by pictures of objects or by symbols whose names resemble the intended words or syllables in sound.” Here is the image that follows the definition:

Did you guess it?

The illustration is trying to say “Can you see well?”

Rebus puzzles, however, are more that just image-sound games. Other rebus puzzles are more elaborate and take some thinking outside the box. For example, have you solved the very first rebus at the beginning of the blog post? It is “missing you.” (Get it? It is literally missing the letter “u”).

Check out this rebus puzzle:

It is “overworked and underpaid.”

It turns out that rebus puzzles have been around for a long, long time. Early forms of rebus have existed in Egyptian hieroglyphs and early Chinese pictographs. Rebus puzzles were used to depict abstract words by representing them as pictures of objects pronounced the same way. It started to evolve as Greeks and Romans used rebus pictures to convey names of towns as well as instruction symbols in religious art and architecture. For East Asian cultures, rebus symbols were used to carry auspicious wishes. For example, Chinese snuff boxes had designs of an upside down bat—not so much because the Chinese were fans of bats but because the rebus is a phonetic pun on the arrival of prosperity.

Rebuses have transformed from their role of conveying direct meanings (to inform or to instruct) to deliberately concealing meanings, seeking to amuse only those who take the time to decode them. Lewis Carroll, the author of the beloved Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, was himself a fan. In 1869, he wrote the following birthday letter to Georgina Watson.

Funnily enough, I think maybe rebus puzzles are making quite the comeback during a time when few write letter correspondences anymore. Little have you realized, in your everyday life, you may be playing a rebus game. Got you stumped?

I am speaking of emojis.

I think you could send the following this holiday season (image credit: web).

I hope I have convinced you why rebus puzzles are one of the greatest brainteasers around. And I will leave you with this:

, rebus puzzles are indeed the best!


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