American English

Definition of picture noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[countable] a painting or drawing, etc. that shows a scene, person, or thing A picture of flowers hung on the wall. The children were drawing pictures of their pets. She wanted a famous artist to paint her picture (= a picture of herself). a book with lots of pictures in it
  2. photograph
  3. 2[countable] a photograph We had our picture taken in front of the hotel. The picture shows the couple together on their yacht. Do you have any pictures of your trip? Thesaurusphotographpicture photo shot snapshot printThese are all words for a picture that has been made using a camera.photograph a picture that has been made using a camera:a photograph of the house Can I take a photograph?picture a photograph:We had our picture taken in front of the a photograph:a passport photophotograph, picture, or photo?Photograph is slightly more formal and photo is slightly less formal. Picture is used especially in the context of photographs in newspapers, magazines, and books.shot a photograph:I tried to get a shot of him in the water. Shot often places more emphasis on the process of taking the photograph than on the finished picture.snapshot an informal photograph that is taken quickly, and not by a professional photographer:holiday snapshotsprint a copy of a photograph that is produced from film or from a digital camera:a set of printsPatterns a color photograph/picture/photo/snapshot/print to take a photograph/picture/photo/shot/snapshot
  4. on TV
  5. 3[countable] an image on a television screen harrowing television pictures of the famine satellite pictures The picture isn't very clear tonight.
  6. description
  7. 4[countable, usually singular] a description that gives you an idea in your mind of what something is like The writer paints a gloomy picture of the economy. The police are trying to build up a picture of what happened. From newspaper reports a picture emerges of a country barely under control. The TV report painted a much rosier picture of the employment situation than research shows to be the case.
  8. mental image
  9. 5[countable, usually singular] a mental image or memory of something I have a vivid picture of my grandfather smiling down at me when I was very small.
  10. general situation
  11. 6the picture [singular] the general situation concerning someone or something Just a few years ago the picture was very different. The overall picture for farming is encouraging.
  12. movie
  13. 7[countable] a movie The movie won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture. I believe her husband's in pictures (= he acts in movies or works in the industry). see also motion picture
  14. 8the pictures [plural] (old-fashioned) (informal) the movies Shall we go to the pictures tonight?
  15. Thesauruspicturepainting drawing portrait print sketchThese are all words for a scene, person, or thing that has been represented on paper by drawing, painting, etc.picture a scene, person, or thing that has been represented on paper using a pencil, a pen, or paint:The children were drawing pictures of their pets.painting a picture that has been made using paint:a collection of paintings by Native American artistsdrawing a picture that has been made using a pencil or a pen, not paint:a pencil/charcoal drawingportrait a painting, drawing, or photograph of a person, especially of the head and shoulders:Vermeer's “Portrait of the Artist in his Studio” a self-portrait (= a painting that you do of yourself)print a picture that has been copied from a painting using photography:a Renoir printsketch a simple picture that is drawn quickly and does not have many details:I usually do a few very rough sketches before I start on a painting.Patterns to draw a picture/portrait/sketch to paint a picture/portrait to make a painting/drawing/portrait/print/sketch to do a painting/drawing/portrait/sketchIdioms
    as pretty as a picture (old-fashioned)
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    very pretty She's as pretty as a picture.
    be/look a picture
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    to look very beautiful or special The garden looks a picture in the summer.
    be the picture of health/guilt/misery, etc. (informal)
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    to look extremely healthy, guilty, etc.
    the big picture (informal)
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    the situation as a whole Right now, we need to forget the details and take a look at the big picture.
    get the picture (informal)
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    to understand a situation, especially one that someone is describing to you “I pretended that I hadn't heard.” “I get the picture.”
    in/out of the picture (informal)
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    involved/not involved in a situation Morris is likely to win, with Jones out of the picture now.
    paint a (grim, gloomy, rosy, etc.) picture of somebody/something
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    to describe something in a particular way; to give a particular impression of someone or something The report paints a vivid picture of life in the city. Journalists paint a grim picture of conditions in the camps.
    put/keep somebody in the picture (informal)
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    to give someone the information they need in order to understand a situation Just to put you in the picture—there have been a number of changes here recently.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: picture