WYS·​I·​WYG ˈwi-zē-ˌwig How to pronounce WYSIWYG (audio) -zə- How to pronounce WYSIWYG (audio)
often attributive
: a display generated by word-processing or desktop-publishing software that exactly reflects the document as it would appear in its finished state

Did you know?

In the early 1980s, the phrase "what you see is what you get" was abbreviated to "WYSIWYG" by computer users who sought a term to describe software that accurately reflects the appearance of the finished product. WYSIWYG interfaces eliminate the need for users to master complex formatting codes, allowing them to concentrate instead on design. Originally used in word processing and desktop publishing, they are now found in Web editors and other programs used to create electronic documents. The word WYSIWYG is a noun, but it is often used attributively (modifying another noun).

Word History


what you see is what you get

First Known Use

1982, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of WYSIWYG was in 1982


Dictionary Entries Near WYSIWYG

Cite this Entry

“WYSIWYG.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/WYSIWYG. Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a computer display generated by word-processing software that shows exactly how a printout of the document will appear

More from Merriam-Webster on WYSIWYG

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!