early 15c., pictur, pictoure, pittour, pectur, "the process or art of drawing or painting," a sense now obsolete; also "a visual or graphic representation of a person, scene, object, etc.," 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 is recorded from 1899. Picture-book, "book illustrated with pictures or consisting mostly of pictures," especially one for children, is by 1847. Picture-frame "more or less ornamental border put around a picture to protect it" is from 1660s.
The phrase every picture tells a story is attested from 1900, in advertisements for an illustrated life of Christ. To be in (or out of) the picture in the figurative sense dates to 1900.
The expression a picture is worth a thousand words, attested from 1918, probably originated in the publication trade (the notion that a picture was worth 1,000 words is in printers' publications by 1911). The phrase was used in the form worth a million words 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."
The phrase 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.
"depict or represent pictorially," late 15c. in the literal sense; 1738 in the mental sense of "form an image of in the mind;" from picture (n.). Related: Pictured; picturing.
by 1884 as a colloquial shortening of picture (n.). Short for motion picture by 1936. Even more colloquial piccy is recorded from 1889.
Buck Rogers thought it up more than 25 years ago, and Bell System has been working on it here for 15 years. Now it's here.
It is called Picturephone, and it is a small television camera and receiver that allows telephone users to gaze into the features of the person they are talking to.
Whether this really is a boon to mankind remains to be seen.
["Picturephones Are On The Way," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Aug. 28, 1970]
also *peik-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to cut, mark by incision," hence "embroider, paint."
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit pimsati "to carve, hew out, cut to measure, adorn;" Greek pikros "bitter, sharp, pointed, piercing, painful," poikilos "spotted, pied, various;" Latin pingere "to embroider, tattoo, paint, picture;" Old Church Slavonic pila "file, saw," pegu "variegated," pisati "to write;" Lithuanian piela "file," piešiu, piešti "to write;" Old High German fehjan "to adorn."
"picture-like, possessing notably original and pleasing qualities," 1703, on pattern of French pittoresque, a loan-word from Italian pittoresco, literally "pictorial" (1660s), from pittore "painter," from Latin pictorem (nominative pictor); see painter (n.1). Of language (somewhat euphemistically), "graphic, vivid," by 1734. As a noun, "that which is picturesque," from 1749. Related: Picturesquely; picturesqueness.