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[foh-toh] /ˈfoʊ toʊ/
noun, plural photos.
Informal. photo finish.
Origin of photo
1855-60; shortened form of photograph


a combining form meaning “light” (photobiology); also used to represent “photographic” or “photograph” in the formation of compound words:
Also, especially before a vowel, phot-.
< Greek, combining form of phôs (genitive phōtós) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for photo
  • Its green banners could be seen above photo shops everywhere.
  • Zoom in on a spectacular national park photo to reveal hundreds more photos making up the original.
  • When you see the right side of the left photo next to the left side of the right photo, it looks lopsided in comparison.
  • Our next semimonthly photo contest will be self-portraits.
  • Contest juries are usually composed of professional photographers, photo editors and art directors.
  • photo detective work could solve an enigma nearly nine decades old.
  • photo software and other applications were simple to use too.
  • Winter may arrive early, too--as shown in the photo at right.
  • First, burst onto the scene with some bold, voice-of-the-generation debut-preferably with a comely author photo.
  • Too often, models were showing up to photo-shoots hours late or drug-addled.
British Dictionary definitions for photo


noun (pl) -tos
short for photograph (sense 1)


combining form
of, relating to, or produced by light: photosynthesis
indicating a photographic process: photolithography
Word Origin
from Greek phōs, phōt- light
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for photo

1860, shortening of photograph. The verb is first recorded 1865, from the noun. Photo finish is attested from 1936. Photo opportunity first recorded 1974.


word-forming element meaning "light" or "photographic" or "photoelectric," from Greek photo-, comb. form of phos (genitive photos) "light," from PIE root *bha- "to shine" (see phantasm).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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photo in Medicine

photo- or phot-

  1. Light; radiant energy: photosynthesis.

  2. Photographic: photofluorography.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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photo in Science
A prefix that means "light," as in photoreceptor.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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