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I can't think of anything that's one word that's distinctive over any other kind of picture. It needs to be something that's specific to an online profile or account.

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You mean you never changed your avatar before? –  RegDwigнt May 11 at 20:47
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@RegDwigнt You should have made this the answer. It's the perfect fit. Avatar: an icon or figure representing a particular person in computer games, Internet forums, etc. –  Tucker May 11 at 21:02
    
In sanskrit avatara, from which avatar is derived, means incarnation, or the appearing-of. –  Blessed Geek May 11 at 21:14
    
You mean like a personal icon? –  tchrist May 11 at 21:32

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think it could be described as one of the following:

  • display picture
  • profile pic
  • display image
  • your pic
  • personal photo
  • profile photo

I would not use avatar as a synonym as that would reference what is usually not a picture of yourself, but an icon of some sorts. My avatar is a picture of rye bread, the stack exchange sites have a random icon generator for avatars. Some sites do a collection of robots or weird puppets. Again my opinion is that avatar usage is different from profile picture.

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I disagree. Most profile pics are referred to as avatars by most core programmers. The term 'profile pic' seems to have been adopted by end-users. –  Tucker May 11 at 21:04
    
@Tucker - I am a core programmer. Avatar is used for sites where it is less social, knowing that most people won't want a picture of themselves on it - like SE. Something like "Profile Picture" is used on facebook, dating sites, twitter, and so on, knowing that it is very important or crucial to have a picture of the person. I think they are vastly different things because this is what I do for a living. Maybe in lay terms they are the same though. –  RyeɃreḁd May 11 at 21:07
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I find that strange. As a web-programmer, I've used this term for any picture that represents a user, whether or not it's a picture of themselves. If a user on a Social Media site decides to use a random image from the web instead of a picture, wouldn't that be an avatar instead? Wow. We could have a pretty good debate about that, actually... –  Tucker May 11 at 21:18
    
@Tucker - I am not discounting what you are saying for sure. If someone used an icon for their profile picture that would be that. However I have been apart of many big site launches and if I was doing a dating site, company directory, or anything like that we used profile picture or photo while doing shopping sites, forums and stuff like that we used avatar because we felt like most people wouldn't use a picture of themselves. Just hearing avatar makes me think icon, cartoon, or depiction. –  RyeɃreḁd May 11 at 22:09
    
I understand where you're coming from, but I've launched some not-so-big websites, and we've always had two different things for Profile Picture and avatar. The avatar is what you'd see when you make comments, visit a site, etc. The Profile Picture is what you'd see on the profile. In Facebook (current version), the little square would be the avatar wherein you would see a piece of the Profile Picture. Just saying. Although I do know that the small picture is still called a Profile Picture on that site, most probably because it is the same picture. –  Tucker May 11 at 22:27

Nick picture may be an alternative, but it’s still two words, not one.

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I’ve never heard that one before. –  tchrist May 11 at 21:30

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