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A rebus has gone missing.   What rebus, and under which $~\boxed{\sf~ \raise{.5ex}\underline\quad \, ? ~\raise{.1ex}\strut}$ ?

$$ \color{#274}{\boxed{ \quad \begin{matrix} \\[-1ex] & \kern-1em \rm ADAD & & \raise{2.5ex}\strut \kern-2em\raise{1.2ex}\color{black}{\boxed{\sf~ here? ~\raise{.1ex}\strut}} \\[-1ex] & \kern-1em \rm ADAD & & & & \kern-1em\rm LLL \\[-1ex] & & & & & \kern-1em\rm LLL & & \kern-1em x \, y \\[-1ex] & & & & & & & \kern-1em z \:\: t \\[-1ex] \rm XCXC & & & & & & & \\[-1ex] \rm XCXC & & & & & & & & & \kern-2em\raise{-2ex}\color{black}{\boxed{\sf~ perhaps? ~\raise{.1ex}\strut\raise{-.2ex}\strut}} \\[-1ex] & & \kern-2em\raise{1.4ex}\color{black}{\boxed{\sf~ maybe? ~\raise{.1ex}\strut\raise{-.2ex}\strut}} & & \kern-1em\rm TTT & & \\[-1ex] & & & & \kern-1em\rm TTT & & \kern-1em\raise{-1.2ex}\color{black}{\boxed{\sf~ or? ~\raise{.1ex}\strut}} \\[-1ex] & & & & & & & & & & & \kern-1em\rm Sn \\[-1ex] & & & & & & & &\kern-1em ~ 2e/6 & & & \kern-1em\rm Sn \\[0ex] & & & & & & & &\kern-1em e/2 {-} \!\; e/6 & & \\[-1ex] & & & & & & & & & & \kern-1em\rm TT \\[-1ex] & & & & & & & & & & & & \kern-1em\rm ZZZZZ \\[-1ex] & & & & & & & & \raise{-1.7ex}\strut & & & & \kern-1em\rm ZZZZZ \\ \end{matrix} \quad }} $$

Naturally, the answer may be rebused more than one way.

Nothing is under three of the $~\raise{-1.2ex}{^{^\boxed{\sf~ \raise{.5ex}\underline\quad \, ? ~\raise{.1ex}\strut}}}~\!$s.   Hint from a comment:

The clues $\rm\raise{-.3ex}{\color{#274}{~ \atop TT}}$ and $\rm\raise{2.3ex}{\color{#274}{\raise{-.5ex}{Sn} \atop Sn}}$ lead to stereotypical New Zealand pronunciations.

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  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Hello. "Rebused" rhymes with "bemused" in my head. Thanks and have a good day. $\endgroup$ – question_asker Mar 15 '16 at 12:25
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    $\begingroup$ @question_asker Do you wish to report domestic rebuse? $\endgroup$ – Samthere Mar 16 '16 at 11:05
  • $\begingroup$ @samthere that's a little tasteless $\endgroup$ – question_asker Mar 16 '16 at 11:06
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    $\begingroup$ That's some serious MathJax! $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Mar 16 '16 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ am i right with 'my two dads' and 'tintin'? $\endgroup$ – JMP Mar 16 '16 at 21:35
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The missing rebus is:

TTT T TTT or anything else that gives seventies

And it needs to be positioned under the box labelled:

maybe?


Reasoning:

Reading from left to right, ignoring vertical position, we have:

XCXC XCXC - XC is Roman numeral for 90, and there's multiple, so we've got nineties
ADAD ADAD - a plurality of ADs or eighties
...the missing one needs to go in here...
TTT TTT - six Ts, or sixties
LLL LLL - similarly with Roman numeral 50s gives fifties
xy z t - the four dimensions, or 4Ds, giving forties
2e/6 e/2−e/6 - both equations resolve to a third of e, but there's two, so we get third es or thirties
TT - twin Ts, or (again with an NZ accent) twenties
Sn Sn - Sn is the chemical symbol for Tin, and we've got more than one, giving us Tins, or (putting on our NZ accent) tens
ZZZZZ ZZZZZ - we've got two rows of Zs, or Z rows, giving zeroes

However, the above solution leaves two possible positions that the missing rebus could appear in:

maybe? or here?

But, if we consider the derebussed words in order of height in the graph, we get:

here?
eighties
fifties
forties
nineties
maybe?
sixties
tens
thirties
twenties
zeroes

It should be painfully obvious, even to the most dimwitted of individuals*, that the words are in alphabetical order... Thus seventies, must be hidden under maybe? to complete the pattern.

* I stared at the list for quite some time before realising

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  • $\begingroup$ @hmmn - I notice that the overall graph is decade decayed, but that doesn't help with the positioning... $\endgroup$ – Alconja Mar 18 '16 at 6:24
  • $\begingroup$ @humn - ok, finished now. I'm sure I wrote them out in that order previously, but perhaps I only did so with the symbols rather than the words... (Excellent puzzle by the way). $\endgroup$ – Alconja Apr 4 '16 at 5:52
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Wrap-up: the making of The Case of the Missing Rebus

This is not a solution to the puzzle but provides notes from its poser. This type of answer has been approved by the community.

Caution: This post contains information about the solution.


Often (almost always?) construction of a puzzle presents a more challenging puzzle than does the resultant puzzle. Sometimes the puzzle of construction itself can neatly infect the finished puzzle.

In this case, leaving a part of the puzzle incomplete improved it. The original idea was a two-dimensional pattern of rebuses whose numerical and verbal interpretations were distractions from each other, for a Stroop-like effect. This would’ve been acceptable for posting, with multiple clues from two angles, but 3 rebuses remained to concoct with only enough ideas for 2 of them.

$$ \kern-2em \small \color{#274}{\boxed{ \quad \begin{matrix} \\[-1ex] & \kern -4em\raise2ex\color {black}{\boxed{\matrix{\sf \raise.4ex{same}\\[-1ex] \sf \raise.4ex{2~ideas}} }} & & & \kern-1em\rm LLL \\[-1ex] & & & & \kern-1em\rm LLL & & \kern-1em x \, y \\[-1ex] & & & & & & \kern-1em z \:\: t \\[-1ex] \rm XCXC & & & & & & \\[-1ex] \rm XCXC & \raise -2ex\color {black}{\boxed {\matrix{\sf\raise .4ex{same}\\[-1ex] \sf\raise .4ex{2~ideas}} }} & \kern-1em \raise-5ex \color{black}{ \boxed{\matrix{ \sf\raise.4ex{same} \\[-1ex] \sf\raise.4ex{2~ideas}} }}\kern-2em & & & & & & & & \kern-1em\raise-8ex{\rm Sn} \\[-.6ex] & & & & & & &\kern-1em ~ 2e/6 & & & \kern-1em \rm Sn \\[0ex] & & & & & & &\kern-1em e/2 {-} \!\; e/6 & & \\[-1ex] & & & & & & & & & \kern-1em\rm TT \\[-1ex] & & & & & & & & & & & \kern-1em\rm ZZZZZ \\[-1ex] & & & & & & & \raise{-1.7ex}\strut & & & & \kern-1em\rm ZZZZZ \\ \end{matrix} \quad }} $$

💡 So why not just be lazy and leave one rebus blank, as the pattern is well established without it, and direct the challenge toward filling it in? This would have serendipitous benefits.
 •    Add meaning to solving the originally conceived puzzle.
 •    Specify the challenge more precisely than “what’s going on here?”
 •    Provide an opportunity, with ready examples but no pressure, for solvers to be inventive.

💡💡 Aesthetically unsatisfying gaps in the midst of the layout could also be filled in with possible places where the missing rebus might belong. This had a surprise benefit as well.
 •    The numerical and verbal patterns must be explicitly solved, not merely sensed.

These 💡💡💡 added natural levels atop a puzzle that already had nine mini-puzzles by which to gather momentum while solving.

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  • $\begingroup$ Do these NZ-pronounced words frequently appear in common, simple puzzles, like a crossword, or a wordsearch? Are they well-known variants for the other (outside of NZ) native English speakers? $\endgroup$ – Matsmath Sep 22 '16 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ The TT rebus felt cheap at the time too, thus the NZ hint. My justification was that it had been used in a USA rebus TV show (truly authoritative!) and that the NZ number-pronunciation guide I found included it as an example. Different rebuses here were expected to have different degrees of transparency so that whichever turned out to be less obvious would be more likely solved in reverse, to reinforce a suspected pattern after the more-obvious rebuses were solved. $\endgroup$ – humn Sep 22 '16 at 22:15

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