See more synonyms for photo on

Origin of photo

First recorded in 1855–60; shortened form of photograph


  1. a combining form meaning “light” (photobiology); also used to represent “photographic” or “photograph” in the formation of compound words: photocopy.
Also especially before a vowel, phot-.

Origin of photo-

< Greek, combining form of phôs (genitive phōtós) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for photo

Contemporary Examples of photo

Historical Examples of photo

  • 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.


    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 plural -tos
  1. short for photograph (def. 1)


combining form
  1. of, relating to, or produced by lightphotosynthesis
  2. indicating a photographic processphotolithography

Word Origin for photo-

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

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

photo in Medicine


  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.

photo in Science


  1. A prefix that means “light,” as in photoreceptor.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.