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Solve the rebus below. The answer is a word. What word is it?


enter image description here

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1 Answer 1

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The answer word is:

COPYRIGHTABLE, a famous 13-letter heterogram.

First, let's identify what some parts of the rebus suggest we do... The items in red...

...suggest a rotation and the number 13 (there are 13 boxes in the row of letters - the characters in red suggest we ought to count them). This naturally suggests that at some point we will need to employ rot-13 (a Caesar shift of 13 alphabet positions).

The boxed letters...

...resemble 13 different keyboard keys, and are ordered approximately (but not exactly) as found from left to right on a standard QWERTY keyboard. (This keyboard-esque arrangement may or may not turn out to be important later - we'll find out as we go.)

The words 'A RAGMAN'...

...are an anagram of the word 'ANAGRAM' (!), suggesting that at some point an anagram will be involved.

The final icon resembles...

...the backspace key on a keyboard, suggesting we need to look at something that has been deleted.

Let's put all of this together:

1. Which 13 letters of the alphabet are missing (have been 'deleted') from the row of lettered boxes? These are (in alphabetical order): BCEGLNOPRTUVY.

2. If we apply the rot-13 cipher to these we get: OPRTYABCEGHIL

3. If we anagram this we can get the word COPYRIGHTABLE...

4. ...and this ties in with the title because when you copyright something you are protecting it from being reproduced!

Note one slight deviation from the OP's intent:

In a comment later posted below this answer, the OP mentions that the rightmost image is not actually intended to represent a backspace key (and hence any similarities to computer keyboards in this puzzle are unintended); instead it is a rebus for 'LEFT OVER', from the left-pointing arrow being positioned over the line. Thus the intent (which was ultimately the same as my reckoning using the backspace interpretation) was for us to "anagram what's leftover of the 26 letters of the alphabet after you applied rot-13 to the 13 letters given."

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  • $\begingroup$ To perform the operation on the missing letters was my first idea but I thought was bogus oh well nice solve +1! $\endgroup$
    – PDT
    Mar 12 at 11:55
  • $\begingroup$ Well done! I Intended the right part to be nantenz yrsgbire. In whole: Nantenz jung'f yrsgbire bs gur 26 yrggref bs gur nycunorg nsgre lbh nccyvrq ebg13 gb gur 13 yrggref tvira. $\endgroup$ Mar 12 at 13:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Prim3numbah Ah, okay - not how I interpreted it but I see! Will incorporate your intent into the write-up for posterity. $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Mar 12 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ Minor note, not really relevant, but the red herring of the QWERTY-esque order was also a fascinating coincidence; if you rot13 the boxed letters themselves, they're just in alphabetical order. $\endgroup$
    – Idran
    Mar 13 at 12:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Idran Nice observation there - feel like I should have noticed that sooner myself! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Mar 13 at 14:56

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