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[foh-toh] /ˈfoʊ toʊ/
noun, plural photos.
Informal. photo finish.
Origin of photo
First recorded in 1855-60; shortened form of photograph


a combining form meaning “light” (photobiology); also used to represent “photographic” or “photograph” in the formation of compound words:
Also, especially before a vowel, phot-.
< Greek, combining form of phôs (genitive phōtós) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for photo
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The smoke interfered with the photo, but then it is true to life.

    Things as They Are Amy Wilson-Carmichael
  • She took the photo out of his hands and examined it carefully back and front.

    Audrey Craven May Sinclair
  • "It must be because they saw my photo in the papers," said Stephanie.

  • More'n a year ago that was, and there hasn't been a word passed about that photo since.

    Torchy Sewell Ford
  • If I had known he had this photo I never would have risked coming.

    Torchy and Vee Sewell Ford
British Dictionary definitions for photo


noun (pl) -tos
short for photograph (sense 1)


combining form
of, relating to, or produced by light: photosynthesis
indicating a photographic process: photolithography
Word Origin
from Greek phōs, phōt- light
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for photo

1860, shortening of photograph. The verb is first recorded 1865, from the noun. Photo finish is attested from 1936. Photo opportunity first recorded 1974.


word-forming element meaning "light" or "photographic" or "photoelectric," from Greek photo-, comb. form of phos (genitive photos) "light," from PIE root *bha- "to shine" (see phantasm).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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photo in Medicine

photo- or phot-

  1. Light; radiant energy: photosynthesis.

  2. Photographic: photofluorography.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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photo in Science
A prefix that means "light," as in photoreceptor.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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