Definition of picture in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpɪktʃə/


1A painting or drawing: draw a picture of a tree
More example sentences
  • The various pictures, drawings and paintings had their captions in Irish.
  • He writes and prints in periodicals verses, drawings and reproductions of pictures which he draws with a brush held in his mouth.
  • More than a dozen original pictures (both drawings and paintings) of the dodo now exist.
painting, drawing, sketch, print, canvas, delineation, cartoon, portrait, portrayal, illustration, artist's impression, artwork, depiction, likeness, representation, image, icon
1.1A photograph: we were warned not to take pictures
More example sentences
  • The photographer wants to take pictures of me with my laptop.
  • A production photographer wants to take pictures of us next to the famous Emmerdale sign.
  • The use of long lens photography to take pictures of people in private places without their consent is also forbidden.
photograph, photo, shot, snap, snapshot, image, portrait, study;
print, slide, transparency, negative, positive, plate, film, bromide, frame, exposure, still, proof, enlargement;
British  enprint
1.2A portrait: she had her picture painted
More example sentences
  • How could these critics of Raphael's unrealistic depictions of the world turn around and paint endless pictures of Ophelia?
  • We've probably seen a picture or a portrait of them, or some depiction, which passes for a portrait.
  • He then moved to Nigeria, where he lived for nearly 25 years, working as a magistrate and a high court judge and painting pictures of people he met.
1.3An image on a television screen: television pictures of captured airmen [as modifier]: poor picture quality
More example sentences
  • Just as yesterday, our televisions screens relayed pictures of running battles with police.
  • Anna stood outside beside the exit door, and watched the rows of television screens displaying pictures of the roller coaster ride.
  • Fog, frost and even poor television pictures are some of the main problems.
1.4A cinema film: the movie took five honours including best picture
More example sentences
  • The only action in his war picture occurs at the very beginning of the film.
  • The picture spawned several sequels aimed at the teenage horror market.
  • There is a rule of thumb amongst movie buffs: the more scriptwriters the worse the picture.
film, movie, feature film;
British  cinema film;
North American  motion picture
informal flick
dated moving picture
1.5 (the pictures) The cinema: I’m going to the pictures with my mates
More example sentences
  • They were rowdy and shouting - they weren't interested in going to the pictures, they were looking for a fight.
  • But apart from that, I like hanging out with my mates and going to the pictures.
  • She's been chilling out, listening to music, going to the pictures, reading a lot.
the cinema, the movies, the silver screen, the big screen;
North American  a motion picture house
informal the flicks
2An impression of something formed from a description: a full picture of the disaster had not yet emerged
More example sentences
  • But let us hear Socrates out, and get a view of the full picture, as he argues that it would be wrong for him to escape into exile.
  • Figures like this are exceptional in the extreme and give a completely unrepresentative impression of the national picture.
  • The long-term picture is impressive in light of poor mechanisation levels in the country.
concept, idea, impression, mental picture, view, (mental) image, vision, visualization, notion, theory, abstraction
3 archaic A person or thing resembling another closely: ‘How excessively like her brother Miss Morland is!’ ‘The very picture of him, indeed!’
More example sentences
  • He's the picture of his father, he's a bonny young Irish boy.
  • "He's the picture of his old sire, Lazzarone," he continued, looking the horse over critically.
  • She's the very picture of her. I saw it at once. When I first went into the room I could hardly believe my own eyes.
personification, embodiment, epitome, essence, perfect example, soul, model
rare exemplar, archetype, quintessence


[with object]
1Represent in a photograph or picture: he is pictured with party guests
More example sentences
  • The poem begins along the right edge of a rice paper sheet next to a vertical strip of black and white photographs picturing Cha obscuring her face with her hands.
  • He is pictured at the party with former employees.
  • A calendar picturing semi-naked men, shot in aid of a village school, has caused uproar after proving too hot to handle.
photograph, take/get a photograph/photo of, take someone's picture/photo, take/get a picture of, take/get a snapshot/snap of, take, snap, shoot, take/get a shot of;
record, film, capture/record on film/celluloid
paint, draw, paint a picture of, sketch, depict, delineate, portray, catch (a likeness of), show, illustrate, reproduce, render, represent
1.1Describe in a certain way: biographers have pictured him as a St Francis
More example sentences
  • It is usually pictured in the form of an elk, less often as a bear.
  • It is therefore imperative that your staff members know how they are being described and pictured.
  • I see you're trying to picture this in terms of a cinematic story that can be told on a screen.
1.2Form a mental image of: she pictured Benjamin waiting
More example sentences
  • Then picture him waiting by the window to greet you every morning as you get to work.
  • My imagination won't let me picture Marilyn older than her 36 years.
  • It means having the imagination to picture the world through the eyes of an 18-year-old.
visualize, see in one's mind, see in one's mind's eye, conjure up a picture of, conjure up an image of, imagine, conceive, call to mind, image, see, evoke;
fantasize about, dream about
rare envision



be in pictures

chiefly North American Act in films or work for the film industry: someone told her she ought to be in pictures
More example sentences
  • Like a lot of youngsters, John decided early on that he wanted to be in pictures.
  • They say that he's exactly the same now as when he was in radio, which I believe, because he's exactly the same now as when he was in pictures.
  • Lottie says, ‘Ten years I've been in pictures and hope to be always in some way or other ’.

be (or look) a picture

Be very pleasing to look at: Kim looked a picture
More example sentences
  • She heard Jingle Bells on the radio and when she looked up her face was a picture as she realised what she was listening to.
  • The Stadium looks a picture at the moment - the best I have seen it to date.
  • The town looks a picture at the moment as you are aware, but there is a substantial cost involved in making all this possible.

the big (or bigger or larger) picture

informal The situation as a whole: he’s so involved in the minutiae that he often overlooks the big picture
More example sentences
  • He sees the big picture of the whole industry, and that generates a lot of respect.
  • Decency paves the way, full of home sweet values which too often are overlooked in the big picture.
  • Nolan has good reason to be excited but he is doing his best not to let the big game divert attention from the big picture.

get the picture

informal Understand a situation: any trouble your father might have we can hide—d’you get the picture?
More example sentences
  • To be honest, I believe it was more difficult to get the picture than to catch the carp.
  • I realize that sounds completely revolting, but I think you get the picture.
  • Scott didn't seem to get the picture, his brain still working on understanding what Jesse had just told him.
understand the situation, work out what's going on, see the light, see daylight, get the point;
fathom, grasp, understand, follow, see, take in, realize, perceive, apprehend
informal understand/see what's what, catch on, latch on, get the drift, get the message, get it

in the picture

Fully informed about something: he called Forbes in London to put him in the picture
More example sentences
  • Lee also demonstrates the tying of new patterns so that we are kept fully in the picture.
  • Blogging fills in the picture of which only a small part is reported by journalists.
  • I am indebted to a good friend for making sure I am kept in the picture.
inform, fill in, give details to, explain the situation to, give information to, explain the circumstances to, describe the state of affairs to, bring up to date, update, brief, keep posted
informal clue in, bring up to speed

out of the picture

So as to be no longer involved in a situation: hostages were better left out of the picture
More example sentences
  • I told him basically, if he was seeing somebody else, that I was out of the picture.
  • But when you take the operations chief out of the picture, it does pose a lot of problems.
  • We'd need him out of the picture to release the surplus for spending.

a (or the) picture of ——

The embodiment of a specified state or emotion: she looked a picture of health
More example sentences
  • This young footballer is the picture of health as he helps make a charity soccer tournament a success.
  • He strode into the surgery briskly with no obvious breathlessness; he looked the picture of health.
  • He was a dour and industrious man who inspired confidence and was the picture of respectability.

(as) pretty as a picture

Very pretty.
Example sentences
  • She was as pretty as a picture - not beautiful, not stark raving mad like me, just pretty.
  • He doesn't put Austen on a pedestal and he doesn't make a film that is pretty as a picture but lacking in any sense of vitality.
  • The world really is as pretty as a picture for the professor, who has recreated the great photographic journeys of the Victorian Age.


Late Middle English: from Latin pictura, from pict- 'painted' (from the verb pingere).

  • The word picture goes back to a form of Latin pingere ‘to paint’, from which paint and pigment (Old English) also derive. Doan's Backache Kidney Pills, claiming to cure everything from rheumatism to diabetes, were promoted with the advertising slogan every picture tells a story. The first known advertisement using it appeared in the Daily Mail of 26 February 1904. The novelist Charlotte Brontë had anticipated the advertising copy, though: in 1847 she wrote in Jane Eyre, ‘The letter-press…I cared little for…Each picture told a story.’ A caption in the magazine Printer's Ink for 8 December 1927, read: ‘Chinese proverb. One picture is worth ten thousand words.’ There is no evidence at all that it is Chinese, but a picture is worth a thousand words has certainly gone on to be a modern English proverb. Depict (Late Middle English) is from the verb depingere ‘portray’, from de- ‘completely’ and pingere.

Words that rhyme with picture


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pic|ture

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