I was reading this question : Photo Vs. Picture Vs. Image : What is the difference between them?

As a technical person, we use the word image for all digital pictures. I wanted to know is that correct? Or is there any specific word for digital pictures?


3 Answers 3


All three could be correct, but really in the tech world it often just comes down to convention, because everything changes so quickly and many are scrambling to "learn" the vernacular without really understanding what it means.

That said, "photo" is short for "photograph" which means a recording (of sorts) made by light, so this word may not always be accurate for all images or pictures (pics). By the way, "pixel" comes from the phrase "pic-ture el-ement" so clearly somebody was calling the images pictures in the early days of software.


“image” includes any representation of something.

“picture” means a visual image.

“photo” is short for “photographic image”, which means an image created by a camera. Photos are also a type of picture.

Drawings and paintings can be pictures but not photos.

There are other types of images, but they are almost always clearly qualified, e.g. a “mental image” or a “disk image”. So, when “image” is used without qualification, we assume a visual image (picture) is meant.


Smartass answer

The question that you linked already talked about the difference between them. You're just asking which best applies to digital pictures? Well, one of them is already in the name of the thing you're talking about and it isn't image.

Showoff answer

Going by their OED entries, any visual representation whatsoever is a picture, an image should properly represent something, and a photograph should properly be an image created by actual light reflected off an actual surface and captured by some machine or chemical process.

The Venn diagram would be a series of concentric circles: every photograph is an image but not all images are photographs, every image is a picture but not every picture is an image.

General answer

People don't really know that (see @stangdon above) and consider image to be more latinate and therefore prestigious. "Picture" makes people vaguely think of third-grade art class. You're in a business, so don't bother disabusing them of their mistake. Just use image and sound professional like everyone else, until it becomes come enough that picture goes back to being the prestige word.

  • 1
    Regarding picture versus image: ell.stackexchange.com/a/9722 It would be nice if you could just give one answer that covered the nuances in a coherent, easily understandable way instead of doing three variations. Keep in mind that most of the folks that will be reading your answer aren't fluent in English.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 6, 2017 at 13:45
  • I want to challenge your "Every image is a picture". That's because we can have an image of a hard disk (not a picture, a digital copy), or we can have a clear image in our head (not a picture, because it might be of something more abstract than an object or thing which can be pictured) Apr 6, 2018 at 9:31
  • @Wilson Would "every visual image is a picture" be more acceptable?
    – miltonaut
    Nov 9, 2018 at 12:52
  • @miltonaut I suppose so, but then my preference would be to say "picture". Nov 9, 2018 at 13:05

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