verb (used with object), pic·tured, pic·tur·ing.

Origin of picture

1375–1425; late Middle English < Latin pictūra the act of painting, a painting, equivalent to pict(us) (past participle of pingere to paint) + -ūra -ure
Related formspic·tur·a·ble, adjectivepic·tur·a·ble·ness, nounpic·tur·a·bly, adverbpic·tur·er, nounmis·pic·ture, verb (used with object), mis·pic·tured, mis·pic·tur·ing.self-pic·tured, adjectiveun·pic·tured, adjective
Can be confusedpicture pitcher

Synonyms for picture

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pictures

Contemporary Examples of pictures

Historical Examples of pictures

British Dictionary definitions for pictures



  1. a visual representation of something, such as a person or scene, produced on a surface, as in a photograph, painting, etc
  2. (as modifier)picture gallery; picture postcard Related adjective: pictorial
a mental image or impressiona clear picture of events
a verbal description, esp one that is vivid
a situation considered as an observable scenethe political picture
a person or thing that bears a close resemblance to anotherhe was the picture of his father
a person, scene, etc, considered as typifying a particular state or qualitythe picture of despair
a beautiful person or sceneyou'll look a picture
a complete image on a television screen, comprising two interlaced fields
  1. a motion picture; film
  2. (as modifier)picture theatre
the pictures mainly British and Australian a cinema or film show
another name for tableau vivant
get the picture informal to understand a situation
in the picture informed about a given situation

verb (tr)

to visualize or imagine
to describe or depict, esp vividly
(often passive) to put in a picture or make a picture ofthey were pictured sitting on the rocks

Word Origin for picture

C15: from Latin pictūra painting, from pingere to paint
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 pictures

"movies," 1912, short for moving pictures.



early 15c., "drawing, painting," from Latin pictura "painting," from pictus, past participle of pingere "to make pictures, to paint, to embroider," (see paint (v.)). Picture window is from 1938. Picture post-card first recorded 1899. Phrase every picture tells a story first attested 1900, in advertisements for an illustrated life of Christ. To be in (or out of) the picture in the figurative sense dates to 1900.

Expression a picture is worth a thousand words, attested from 1918, probably was from the publication trade (the notion that a picture was worth 1,000 words is in printers' publications by 1911). The phrase also was in use in the form worth a million words, the form used by American newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane (1864-1936) in an editorial much-read c.1916 titled "What is a Good Newspaper" in the "New York Evening Journal." In part it read, "After news and humor come good pictures. In this day of hurry we learn through the eye, and one picture may be worth a million words." It seems to have emerged into general use via the medium of advertising (which scaled down the number and also gave the expression its spurious origin story as "a Japanese proverb" or some such thing, by 1919). Earlier various acts or deeds (and in one case "the arrow") were said to be worth a thousand words.



late 15c. in the literal sense; 1738 in the mental sense, from picture (n.). Related: Pictured; picturing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with pictures


In addition to the idiom beginning with picture

  • picture is worth a thousand words, one

also see:

  • get the message (picture)
  • in the picture
  • pretty as a picture
  • take a picture
  • the picture
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.