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song notes with DO blank MI   yellow school bus

No. of Players: 1+
Type of Game: written
What you need: pen and paper


To create or solve puzzles in which combinations of letters and symbols represent words.

How to play

A rebus employs combinations of letters, numbers, symbols, pictures, and other devices to represent words or phrases. Players can challenge themselves or others to create and solve rebuses. If there are multiple players, one player can act as gamemaster by creating a series of rebuses and then timing the players to see who finishes the quickest. That winning player will become the gamemaster in the next round.

This game is similar to Pictonyms.


12 numbered rebus puzzles


1. I am not one to blame
2. One foot in front of the other
3. Life after death
4. Handball
5. An inside man
6. Left for dead
7. French kiss
8. One-hit wonder
9. World without end
10. One in a million
11. CAR = CAT-T+R
12. Just between you and me

Did you know?

The first rebus was printed on a clay cuneiform tablet 5,000 years ago. Apparently, the ancient scribe needed to communicate the word 'reimburse,' but substituted instead an image of a reed. That presented a puzzle for readers, which they could only solve when they realized how the two Sumerian words were homophones – that is, they had two different meanings but were pronounced exactly the same.

reed image with word REIMBURSE

Egyptian writing systems also used pictures of objects to represent abstract words if they were pronounced the same way. Examples of such hieroglyphs could be found written on monuments, like tombs and obelisks, and on everyday objects, like ceramic pots. But also in 3D form, as the famous statue of Ramses II attests. At the rear is Horus the sun god (RA), who is standing behind a sitting child (MES) holding a sedge plant stalk in his left hand (SU). Put these three elements together and you get the name of this celebrated pharaoh: RA-MES-SU.

statue of Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II

Centuries later, rebus pictures appeared on Greek and Roman coins to convey names of towns, on coats of arms for names of families in medieval heraldry, and for instructional purposes in religious art and architecture. One written rebus which arose in the 18th century is still very much in use today: the IOU, which is the literal phonetic spelling of the words 'I owe you.'

In case you're wondering, the images under the title of this word game form a rebus puzzle:


Did you know?

According to Guinness World Records, Carl Fisher of Pleasant Hope, Missouri, has had the longest career as a bus driver. Carl was born in 1930 and first started driving school buses in 1946 when he turned 16 years old.

yellow school bus

As of December, 2010 he was still driving high school students to Ozark Technical College daily. That means Carl has been driving school buses for over 64 years! He estimates he has driven three generations of students, sometimes in the same family, at least 2 million miles.

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Update: Carl retired in August 2012 at nearly 82 years old. That means he spent over 65 years behind the wheel driving students to and from school. Congratulations Carl, and thank you for your service!

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