a picture is worth a thousand words


a picture is worth a thousand words
also, a picture paints a thousand words

Meaning | Synonyms

  • a picture conveys information more effectively than words
  • a picture can tell a story just as well as many words
  • using graphics can convey ideas more effectively than a large number of words
  • graphic illustration conveys stronger messages than words

Example Sentences

  1. A good presentation should contain more of graphics and less of text, since a picture is worth a thousand words.
  2. In order to effectively convey the health hazards of smoking, a cigarette pack now contains a picture of diseased lungs, instead of just the statutory warning message. A picture is worth a thousand words.
  3.  The newspaper report carried more pictures of the event than text, since a picture is worth a thousand words.
  4. Its easier to learn how a machine works from pictures rather than descriptions, since a picture is worth a thousand words.
  5. It would be better if you drew out a map with the direction to the place rather than just telling me. A picture is worth a thousand words.
  6. Jane’s reaction in the picture is so weird about her boss – someone truly said that a picture paints a thousand words.
  7. Such a beautiful portrait of a little girl – represents how a picture paints a thousand words.


This phrase originated in America in the early 1900s. Its introduction is widely attributed to Frederick R. Barnard, an advertising executive. However, other references to its origin also exist.

Henrik Ibsen first said:

“A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.”

After he died in 1906 the phrase was plagiarised and rephrased into the present form we know today.

In March 1911, the Syracuse Advertising Men’s Club held a banquet to discuss journalism and advertising. In an article on The Post-Standard covering this event, the author mentioned Tess Flanders as saying: “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.”

A similar phrase, “One Look Is Worth A Thousand Words”, appears in a 1913 newspaper advertisement for the Piqua Auto Supply House of Piqua, Ohio.

The most likely origin and also the oldest printed record of the phrase in its exact form is believed to be in 1918 in an American newspaper, The San Antonio Light, which first published it in an advertisement for the paper itself, which reads:

One Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
The San Antonio Light’s Pictorial Magazine of the War
Exemplifies the truth of the above statement—judging from the warm reception it has received at the hands of the Sunday Light readers.

Share your opinions1 Opinion

The information about the historical origin: In fact, Arthur Brisbane (not Tess Flanders) is quoted in saying “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words”. There are two articles (within a month of each other) that report this phrase. The first uses quotation marks which, after tracing whom the journalist is referring to, in fact does refer to Brisbane. The second is written by Brisbane who uses the phase unquoted. Both articles corroborate with additional quotations attributed to and given by Brisbane, and in reference to the same event.

‒ Brian July 14, 2021

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