Most people are familiar with the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” and its meaning is now axiomatic. But where does it come from and who said it first?
Well, according to the boffins at Wikipedia, it was Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen who first used the term:
“A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed”.
Although this is obviously not the same, it’s thought that this is where the phrase originated due to being widely adopted (and adapted) after he died in 1906.
This leads us neatly on to a variation of Ibsen’s quote when the phrase “One Look Is Worth A Thousand Words”, first appeared in an Ohio newspaper ad in 1913. Strangely enough, the phrase was used in a promotion by a company selling car tyres – Not very romantic is it?!
For all you purists out there
Understandably, the somewhat tenuous origins I mention above won’t be to everyone’s liking so in order to get closer to the exact phrase, we’ll need to look at the text that appeared in an ad in the San Antonio Light newspaper in 1918 which reads:
“One of the Nation’s Greatest Editors Says: 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.”
Again, this isn’t exactly the most romantic or charming of settings for the phrase that most of us are familiar with today but, it is what it is I suppose.
On a personal note, I think that if you’re looking for an easy way to put the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” into context, simply scroll to the top of this page and look at the lead image 🙂