picture (n.)

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.

picture (v.)

"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.

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Definitions of picture from WordNet
picture (n.)
a visual representation (of an object or scene or person or abstraction) produced on a surface;
they showed us the pictures of their wedding
Synonyms: image / icon / ikon
picture (n.)
graphic art consisting of an artistic composition made by applying paints to a surface;
his pictures hang in the Louvre
Synonyms: painting
picture (n.)
a clear and telling mental image;
he described his mental picture of his assailant
he had no clear picture of himself or his world
Synonyms: mental picture / impression
picture (n.)
a situation treated as an observable object;
the political picture is favorable
Synonyms: scene
picture (n.)
illustrations used to decorate or explain a text;
the dictionary had many pictures
Synonyms: pictorial matter
picture (n.)
the visible part of a television transmission;
they could still receive the sound but the picture was gone
Synonyms: video
picture (n.)
a graphic or vivid verbal description;
too often the narrative was interrupted by long word pictures
the author gives a depressing picture of life in Poland
Synonyms: word picture / word-painting / delineation / depiction / characterization / characterisation
picture (n.)
a typical example of some state or quality;
she was the picture of despair
the very picture of a modern general
picture (n.)
a form of entertainment that enacts a story by sound and a sequence of images giving the illusion of continuous movement;
Synonyms: movie / film / moving picture / moving-picture show / motion picture / motion-picture show / picture show / pic / flick
picture (n.)
a representation of a person or scene in the form of a print or transparent slide or in digital format;
Synonyms: photograph / photo / exposure / pic
picture (v.)
imagine; conceive of; see in one's mind;
picture (v.)
show in, or as in, a picture;
Synonyms: depict / render / show