This example shows an image with a portion greatly enlarged, in which the individual pixels are rendered as small squares and can easily be seen.
A photograph of sub-pixel display elements on a laptop's LCD screen

In digital imaging, a pixel, pel,[1] or picture element[2] is a physical point in a raster image, or the smallest addressable element in an all points addressable display device; so it is the smallest controllable element of a picture represented on the screen.

Each pixel is a sample of an original image; more samples typically provide more accurate representations of the original. The intensity of each pixel is variable. In color imaging systems, a color is typically represented by three or four component intensities such as red, green, and blue, or cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

In some contexts (such as descriptions of camera sensors), pixel refers to a single scalar element of a multi-component representation (called a photosite in the camera sensor context, although sensel is sometimes used),[3] while in yet other contexts it may refer to the set of component intensities for a spatial position.

The word pixel is a portmanteau of pix (from "pictures", shortened to "pics") and el (for "element"); similar formations with 'el' include the words voxel[4] and texel.[4]


The word "pixel" was first published in 1965 by Frederic C. Billingsley of JPL, to describe the picture elements of video images from space probes to the Moon and Mars.[5] Billingsley had learned the word from Keith E. McFarland, at the Link Division of General Precision in Palo Alto, who in turn said he did not know where it originated. McFarland said simply it was "in use at the time" (circa 1963).[6]

The word is a combination of pix, for picture, and element. The word pix appeared in Variety magazine headlines in 1932, as an abbreviation for the word pictures, in reference to movies.[7] By 1938, "pix" was being used in reference to still pictures by photojournalists.[6]

The concept of a "picture element" dates to the earliest days of television, for example as "Bildpunkt" (the German word for pixel, literally 'picture point') in the 1888 German patent of Paul Nipkow. According to various etymologies, the earliest publication of the term picture element itself was in Wireless World magazine in 1927,[8] though it had been used earlier in various U.S. patents filed as early as 1911.[9]

Some authors explain pixel as picture cell, as early as 1972.[10] In graphics and in image and video processing, pel is often used instead of pixel.[11] For example, IBM used it in their Technical Reference for the original PC.

Pixels, abbreviated as "px", are also a unit of measurement commonly used in graphic and web design, equivalent to roughly 196 inch (0.26 mm). This measurement is used to make sure a given element will display as the same size no matter what screen resolution views it.[12]

Pixilation, spelled with a second i, is an unrelated filmmaking technique that dates to the beginnings of cinema, in which live actors are posed frame by frame and photographed to create stop-motion animation. An archaic British word meaning "possession by spirits (pixies)", the term has been used to describe the animation process since the early 1950s; various animators, including Norman McLaren and Grant Munro, are credited with popularizing it.[13]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Pieksel
العربية: بكسل
asturianu: Píxel
azərbaycanca: Piksel
বাংলা: পিক্সেল
Bân-lâm-gú: Ōe-sò͘
беларуская: Піксель
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Піксэл
भोजपुरी: पिक्सेल
български: Пиксел
bosanski: Piksel
català: Píxel
čeština: Pixel
dansk: Pixel
Deutsch: Pixel
eesti: Piksel
español: Píxel
Esperanto: Rastrumero
euskara: Pixel
فارسی: پیکسل
français: Pixel
Gaeilge: Picteilín
Gàidhlig: Picseal
galego: Píxel
한국어: 화소
հայերեն: Փիքսել
हिन्दी: पिक्सल
Bahasa Indonesia: Piksel
íslenska: Díll
italiano: Pixel
עברית: פיקסל
қазақша: Пиксель
Кыргызча: Пиксель
latviešu: Pikselis
lietuvių: Pikselis
magyar: Képpont
македонски: Пиксел
മലയാളം: പിക്സൽ
Bahasa Melayu: Piksel
Nederlands: Pixel
日本語: ピクセル
norsk: Piksel
олык марий: Пиксель
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Piksel
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਪਿਕਸਲ
پښتو: پېکسل
polski: Piksel
português: Pixel
română: Pixel
русский: Пиксель
Simple English: Pixel
slovenčina: Obrazový prvok
slovenščina: Piksel
српски / srpski: Пиксел
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Piksel
suomi: Pikseli
svenska: Pixel
தமிழ்: படவணு
తెలుగు: చిణువు
Türkçe: Piksel
українська: Піксель
اردو: پکسل
Tiếng Việt: Pixel
walon: Picsel
中文: 像素