noun, plural re·bus·es.

  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.

adverb International Law.

  1. (of the duration of the binding force treaty) for as long as the relevant facts and circumstances remain basically the same.

noun plural -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

c.1600, from Latin rebus “by means of objects,” ablative plural of res “thing, object.” According to French sources, 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.” In either case from Latin res “thing.”

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