pix·​el ˈpik-səl How to pronounce pixel (audio)
plural pixels
: any of the small discrete elements that together constitute an image (as on a television or digital screen)
If the ball is flying from left to right across a video screen, a pixel at one fixed location on the screen will get darker and darker as time ticks on because it depicts points farther and farther to the left on the ball.Frédo Durand et al.
: any of the detecting elements of a solid-state optical sensor (such as a CCD or CMOS device)
The team used a new CCD detector that has an 8,192 by 8,192 pixel array, which makes it the world's largest astronomical CCD.Astronomy
the … CMOS image sensor provides a 9-µm pixel size …Mathew Dirjish

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Is it pixelated or pixilated?

Pixelated is used to describe digital images in which individual pixels are discernable, as when you look closely at a large photo and can see the tiny dots that make up the image. Pixilated (coined from pixie, a pixie being a cheerful, mischievous sprite) is usually used to describe things considered whimsical, or people who seem dazed or lost in thought. While pixelated is a late 20th century coinage, pixilated has been in use since the mid-19th century.

Examples of pixel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The action is messy and hard to follow, and a few shots seem stitched together with but a single pixel and a prayer. Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times, 21 Sep. 2023 Screen Resolution 480 x 272 pixels Estimated Battery Life 1 hr. Talon Homer, Popular Mechanics, 9 Aug. 2023 Her songs draw on the cyberpunk heroism celebrated in our pages and pixels. WIRED, 8 Aug. 2023 Using high-resolution imagery of about a foot (30 cm) per pixel, city planners and engineers are able to detect markings and features on the ground such as bicycle lanes and traffic direction. Darren Ruddell, Discover Magazine, 8 Sep. 2023 The screen's pixel density is 120 pixels per inch (ppi), which should render an image easily sharp enough for photo and diagram editing (assuming the source is sufficiently sharp). PCMAG, 3 Sep. 2023 The new board will also have 22% more pixels, totaling over 8.2 million. Micah Pearce, Dallas News, 18 Aug. 2023 The deeper difference is that computer models are made of abstractions—letters, pixels, files—while acoustic instruments are made of material. Jaron Lanier, The New Yorker, 22 July 2023 These pixels collected sensitive information entered at the website by taxpayers and relayed the information to Meta, which runs the social network Facebook, and to Google. Hiawatha Bray, BostonGlobe.com, 12 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pixel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


pix + element

First Known Use

1965, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pixel was in 1965

Dictionary Entries Near pixel

Cite this Entry

“Pixel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pixel. Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


pix·​el ˈpik-səl How to pronounce pixel (audio)
: any of the small elements that together make up an image (as on a television screen) or sensor (as in a camera)

from pix, an altered form of pictures, and element

More from Merriam-Webster on pixel

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