Picture-perfect


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Picture perfect'?

Other phrases with

A faultless image.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Picture perfect'?

This phrase alludes to the idealized settings and composition of wedding photographs, in which every detail is managed to obtain a perfect result.

Oddly, the Edwardian wedding photographs which are the source of the phrase ‘picture perfect’ look rather dour to 21st century eyes. The bride and groom were instructed not to smile as the long exposure required them to maintain the same expression for around 20 seconds.

The phrase was coined in the USA in the early 20th century; for example, this piece in the ‘Savannah Social News’ column of the Georgia newspaper The Atlanta Constitution, January 1909:

“Exquisite decoration made the setting for the wedding picture perfect, quantities of lovely flowers being used in the adornment of the four rooms.”

The phrase didn’t catch on at the time though and was rarely used again until the late 20th century.

Trend of picture – perfect in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.