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[pik-suh l, -sel] /ˈpɪk səl, -sɛl/
noun, Computers, Television.
the smallest element of an image that can be individually processed in a video display system.
1965-70; pix2 ( def 1 ) + el(ement) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pixels
  • If you sit far enough away so they can see your whole body, that doesn't leave many pixels for your face.
  • If your screen is so large you can see the individual pixels on the screen, the illusion is ruined.
  • pixels are an anachronism, the clumsy brush strokes of the digital world.
  • He enlarged the image on his computer screen until it became a mosaic of pixels.
  • But simply piling on the pixels will not be enough to match the rich visual experience of human eyes.
  • That's so many pixels you'd think they'd make an image you could zoom into.
  • The display employs microscopic mechanical switches that turn pixels on and off at rates more than fast enough to display video.
  • The camera has a relatively small number of pixels, so the system uses computational trickery to boost the resolution.
  • The prototype display's pixels are controlled by fast-switching silicon transistors printed on top of plastic.
  • The transition from pencils to pixels hasn't been easy for the studio.
British Dictionary definitions for pixels


any of a number of very small picture elements that make up a picture, as on a visual display unit
Word Origin
C20: from pix pictures + el(ement)
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 pixels



1969, coined to describe the photographic elements of a television image, from pix + first syllable of element.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pixels in Medicine

pixel pix·el (pĭk'səl, -sěl')
The smallest image-forming unit of a video display.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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pixels in Science

The most basic unit of an image displayed on a computer or television screen or on a printer. Pixels are generally arranged in rows and columns; a given combination among the pixels of various brightness and color values forms an image. ◇ A subpixel is one of three components of a pixel used in the representation of a color image. Each subpixel represents the contribution of a single color—red, green, or blue—to the overall color and brightness of the pixel.

Our Living Language  : The images on a computer screen are composed of tiny dots called pixels (short for picture element). The computer controls each pixel individually. Most monitors have hundreds of thousands, or often millions, of pixels that are lit or dimmed to create an image. Each pixel of a color screen is made out of one red, one blue, and one green subpixel, generally arranged in a triangle, adjusted individually to create the combined effect of a single color but treated as a unit pixel for determining resolution. Pixels vary in size according to the size and resolution of the monitor. Smaller pixels provide higher resolution, and therefore sharper images, but require more memory to store the color and intensity data of each pixel and more processing time to refresh the screen. Resolution is frequently referred to in terms of dpi, or dots per inch.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Related Abbreviations for pixels


picture element
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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