Meaning of PICTURE in English


I. pic ‧ ture 1 S1 W1 /ˈpɪktʃə $ -ər/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: adjective : ↑ pictorial , ↑ picturesque ; verb : ↑ picture ; noun : ↑ picture ]

[ Date: 1400-1500 ; Language: Latin ; Origin: pictura , from pictus , past participle of pingere 'to paint' ]

1 . PAINTING/DRAWING [countable] shapes, lines etc painted or drawn on a surface, showing what someone or something looks like:

The room had several pictures on the walls.

a book with pictures in it

picture of

I like that picture of the two horses.

draw/paint a/sb’s picture

Draw a picture of your house.

He asked her permission to paint her picture (=paint a picture of her) .

2 . PHOTOGRAPH [countable] a photograph

picture of

That’s a great picture of you, Dad!

take sb’s picture/take a picture of somebody

I asked the waiter if he’d mind taking our picture.

wedding/holiday etc pictures

Would you like to see the wedding pictures?

3 . TELEVISION [countable] an image that appears on a television or cinema screen

picture of

upsetting pictures of the famine in Africa

satellite pictures from space

4 . DESCRIPTION/IDEA [countable usually singular] a description or idea of what something is like

picture of

The book gives you a good picture of what life was like in Japan in the early 19th century.

The article paints a rather bleak picture of the future of our planet.

Detectives are trying to build up a picture of the kidnapper.

The description in the guidebook showed rather a rosy picture (=one that makes you think that something is better than it really is) .

I now have a vivid picture (=very clear picture) in my mind.

5 . SITUATION [singular] the general situation in a place, organization etc:

The worldwide picture for tribal people remains grim.

the wider political picture

Checks throughout the region revealed a similar picture everywhere.

big/bigger/wider picture

We were so caught up with the details, we lost sight of the big picture (=the situation considered as a whole) .

6 . MENTAL IMAGE [countable usually singular] an image or memory that you have in your mind:

Sarah had a mental picture of Lisbon.

He had a vivid picture in his mind.

7 . put/keep somebody in the picture to give someone all the information they need to understand a situation, especially one that is changing quickly:

I’m just going now, but Keith will put you in the picture.

8 . get the picture informal to understand a situation:

You’ve said enough. I get the picture.

9 . out of the picture if someone is out of the picture, they are no longer involved in a situation:

Injury has effectively put Woods out of the picture as far as international matches are concerned.

10 . FILM

a) [countable] a film:

It was voted the year’s best picture.

b) the pictures [plural] British English the cinema:

Would you like to go to the pictures?

11 . be the picture of health/innocence/despair etc to look very healthy etc:

Head bowed and sobbing, she was the picture of misery.

12 . be/look a picture to look beautiful

⇨ pretty as a picture at ↑ pretty 2 (7)

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ verbs

▪ draw/paint a picture

She drew a picture of a mushroom on the blackboard.

▪ do a picture of somebody/something (=draw or paint a picture)

He’s done a picture of a monster.

▪ a picture hangs somewhere

Three pictures hung on the wall over his bed.

▪ a picture shows something formal

The picture shows two women leaning down towards a third.

▪ a picture is of somebody/something (=used to talk about what a picture shows)

There's a picture of his wife above the fireplace.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 4)

■ adjectives

▪ a clear/good picture

He still didn’t have a clear picture of what had happened.

▪ a vivid picture (=very clear)

Their diaries give us a vivid picture of their lives at the time.

▪ an accurate/true picture

Our aim is to build an accurate picture of the needs of disabled people.

▪ a distorted/misleading picture (=one that is not accurate)

The media coverage left many people with a distorted picture.


These figures give a misleading picture of the company’s financial health.

▪ a detailed picture

We now have a detailed picture of the bird’s habits.

▪ a complete/full picture

By asking these questions, I was able to get a more complete picture.

▪ an overall/general picture

The study is intended to provide an overall picture of political activity in the nation.

▪ a bleak/gloomy/grim picture (=giving the impression that something is or will be bad)

The report paints a bleak picture of the economy.

▪ a rosy picture (=giving the impression that something is or will be good)

That figure paints a misleadingly rosy picture.

■ verbs

▪ have a picture

I've never been there, but I have a picture of it in my mind.

▪ a picture emerges (=becomes clear)

No clear picture emerges from the studies.

▪ get a picture

Scientists have been trying to get a better picture of how the drug works.

▪ build up/form a picture (=gradually get an idea of what something is like)

Detectives are still trying to build up a picture of what happened.

▪ give/provide a picture

Her book gives us an interesting picture of ordinary people’s homes at the time.

▪ present a picture

Newspapers tend to present a grim picture of what's going on in the world.

▪ paint a picture (=create a particular idea or impression, especially one that is not accurate)

The latest survey paints a grim picture.

• • •


▪ picture shapes, lines etc painted or drawn on a surface, especially as a piece of art, and often showing what someone or something looks like:

a picture of a horse


He painted the picture in 1890, just before he died.

▪ drawing a picture drawn with a pencil, pen etc:

We had to do a drawing of a sunflower.

▪ sketch a picture that is drawn quickly:

I made a quick sketch of the kind of room we wanted.

▪ painting a picture made using paint:

The painting now hangs in the Museum of Modern Art.


Picasso did several paintings of her.

▪ portrait a picture of a person:

The portrait was painted by Rembrandt.

▪ landscape a picture of a place, especially in the countryside or the mountains:

Constable painted mainly landscapes.

▪ cartoon a funny drawing in a newspaper or magazine that tells a story or a joke:

A cartoon in the New York Times showed the President talking to Osama Bin Laden.

▪ comic strip a series of pictures drawn inside boxes that tell a story:

Charles Schultz was famous for his cartoon strip about Snoopy and Charlie Brown.

▪ caricature a funny drawing of someone that makes a part of someone’s face or body look bigger, worse etc than it really is, especially in a funny way:

He is famous for his caricatures of politicans.

▪ illustration a picture in a book:

The book has over 100 pages of illustrations, most of them in colour.

▪ poster a large picture printed on paper that you stick to a wall as decoration:

old movie posters


There were lots of posters of pop bands on her bedroom wall.

▪ print a picture that is usually produced on a ↑ printing press , and is one of a series of copies of the same picture:

a limited edition of lithographic prints by John Lennon

▪ image a picture – used especially when talking about what the picture is like, or the effect it has on you:

He produced some memorable images.


a beautiful image


Some of the images are deeply disturbing.

▪ artwork pictures or photographs, especially ones that have been produced to be used in a book or magazine:

We are still waiting for the artwork to come back from the printers.

II. picture 2 BrE AmE verb [transitive]

[ Word Family: adjective : ↑ pictorial , ↑ picturesque ; verb : ↑ picture ; noun : ↑ picture ]

1 . to imagine something by making an image in your mind:

Tom, picturing the scene, smiled.

picture somebody/something as something

Rob had pictured her as serious, but she wasn’t like that.

picture somebody doing something

I can’t picture him skiing. He’s so clumsy!

picture what/how

Picture what it would be like after a nuclear attack.

2 . [usually passive] to show someone or something in a photograph, painting, or drawing:

She is pictured with her mum Christine and sister Kelly.

3 . [usually passive] to describe something in a particular way

be pictured as something

She’s been pictured as a difficult, demanding woman.

• • •


▪ imagine to form a picture or idea in your mind about what something might be like:

When I think of Honolulu, I imagine long white beaches and palm trees.


I can’t really imagine being a millionaire.

▪ visualize to form a picture of someone or something in your mind, especially something that is definitely going to happen or exist in the future:

Anna visualized meeting Greg again at the airport.


The finished house may be hard to visualize.

▪ picture to form a clear picture of something or someone in your mind:

I can still picture my father, even though he died a long time ago.


The town was just how she had pictured it from his description.

▪ envisage /ɪnˈvɪzɪdʒ/ especially British English , envision to imagine something as possible or likely to happen in the future:

How do you envisage your career developing over the next ten years?


They had envisioned the creation of a single armed force, small but efficient.

▪ conceive of something formal to imagine a situation, especially one that is difficult to imagine:

For many people, music is so important that they cannot conceive of life without it.

▪ fantasize to imagine something exciting that you would like to happen, but that is very unlikely to happen:

I used to fantasize about becoming a film star.

▪ daydream to imagine pleasant things, so that you forget where you are and what you should be doing:

Mark began to daydream, and didn’t even hear the teacher’s question.

▪ hallucinate to imagine that you are seeing things that are not really there, especially because you are ill or have taken drugs:

The drug that can cause some people to hallucinate.


When I saw the walls moving, I thought I must be hallucinating.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.