Russian Language Blog

Russian Rebus Rules Posted by on Nov 4, 2013 in language

Have you ever tried solving a Russian crossword puzzle? How about “Найдите слово” (Find a word) challenge? Don’t feel bad if you haven’t. Crosswords are tough and “find-a-word”s can be downright boring. So, ditch those and try your hand at something way more fun instead. And what can be more fun than a ребус (rebus puzzle)!

In case you have not played it before, ребус is a kind of загадка (puzzle) in which words or entire phrases are represented using a clever combination of картинки (pictures), буквы (letters), числа (numbers), and знаки (symbols).

But let’s not dwell too long on what a rebus is. Let’s try to solve one right away. This is a real rebus that most Russian first- and second-graders are familiar with. This rebus has 4 elements – 3 letters and a symbol, specifically – a punctuation mark.


Got it? Does it spell

А) A small migratory bird that is responsible for bringing spring to Russia?

Б) A type of high-speed passenger train that will carry spectators between various locations during the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi

В) A beautiful ballet pose, although its correct name is арабеск.

Г) All of the above

Ok, so if you found this one super-easy, here’s another ребус for you. It is made up of a number and four letters.

100 РОНА

Was it too easy? If you did it right, then you can use зашифрованное слово (encrypted word) to fill in the blanks:

А) Родная ___________ – native land, also a name of a supermarket chain

Б) Смотреть со __________ – take a detached view

В) По ту ____________ – on the far side

Г) На все четыре _____________ – literally: to the four winds

Ok, so now that you’ve had a chance to warm up, here’s a really hard one

 Чи ,,5 СЯ

Perhaps this is a good time to introduce a few formal rules that will help you with this particular rebus:

1. You read a rebus from left to right

2. If you see one or several запятые (commas) on the bottom left of a picture, number or a symbol, you should drop first few letters of the word represented by the picture, number or symbol. The number of letters dropped = the number of commas. If you see inverted commas on the top right of a picture, then you drop the last few letters.

3. If you see 2 letters or pictures next to each other and one is smaller than the other, then you will need to read both, connecting them with the preposition “у” (with, near) or “при” (in, on, under, attached to)

Use the hidden word from the last rebus puzzle to fill in the blanks in these useful phrases:

А) ___________, _________________ и _________________!

Б) Не хочу _________________, а хочу жениться!

С) ______________ никогда не поздно.

 If you are craving more better ребусы (yes, they are very addictive), want more challenging ones, or want ones with pictures, then do I have a website for you. Head over to Ребус Номер 1 (Rebus Number 1) site where you can learn ALL the Russian Rebus Rules, try solving both случайный ребус (random rebus) and актуальный (timely or of immediate interest) rebus, check out Top-100 rebus puzzles, and, best of all, generate your own rebus from any Russian word or phrase. And if you are worried about these puzzles being too difficult, set генератор ребусов (rebus puzzle generator) to ребус для детей (kids version) instead of стандартный ребус (standard version).

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  1. Moonyeen Albrecht:

    I am at the advanced intermediate level in Russian language studies, but I don’t get this.
    Can you please explain the first one? лас. Maybe then I could figure out what this is all about. I love word games and really would like to understand this. Maybe it would help if I look at the
    sources you provide at the end of this posting.

    • yelena:

      @Moonyeen Albrecht Moonyeen, have you been able to solve the ЛАС. puzzle? If you have, then you will know how this wordless video relates to the puzzle. Have you had a chance to look at other puzzles on the Rebus1 site?

  2. Joerg:

    @Moonyeen: I also had a hard time to figure out the meaning of the first one. I think that’s because the solution word does not belong to the basic vocabulary – I mean how many names of a bird, a tree and so on do we usually know in a foreign language? Anyway, what you have to do in order to solve this kind of puzzles is to think of the word that is represented by the sign. In this case you need the Russian word for “dot”. Got it? 🙂

    • yelena:

      @Joerg Excellent hint, Joerg! And you’re right, the difficulty here is that the solution word, while known to every Russian, is not a common word.

  3. Rob McGee:

    These are AWESOME! Thanks, Yelena!

    By the way, that big К all covered with smaller А‘s is itself a rebus spelling out a very basic Russian word that most beginners know. Here’s a hint:

    Муравьи ползают по яблоку.
    The ants are crawling all over the apple.