As I am not a native speaker of English, I am not sure about the actual meaning and differences between the following words and a phrase:

  • display
  • monitor
  • screen
  • display monitor

I want to know which word is suitable to specify physical display devices of a part of computers (to see pictures, movies or something results of computing by the light through my eyes).

I see amazon.com and the result of displays and monitor shows what I want to express. It seems that some manufactures name their goods as display monitor. I also want to know the difference of overtones.

  • 1
    I'd say a display (a smartwatch, the interface on a gas pump, a whiteboard, etc.) is something on which information is displayed; a screen is a type of display; a monitor is a free-standing screen that needs to be plugged into a device; and "display monitor" is redundant, meaning no more than "monitor". Display > screen > monitor = display monitor Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 19:07
  • 1
    “Display monitor” is not necessarily tautologous - it distinguishes it from, for example, a blood pressure monitor though admittedly you might infer that from the context.
    – pbasdf
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 19:57
  • Basically, they are all used interchangeably. Some folks will argue that you should never call an X a "monitor" or some such, but it's really a matter of the argot that's developed in the particular technical area that determines which is most "appropriate".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 22:12

2 Answers 2


There are strong overlaps, but they are not identical. I can give you some typical meanings:

“Monitor” is often similar to a TV, but without the intent of receiving TV programs. (Monitor is also used in a total different meaning, like a heart monitor recording your heart rate).

“Display” is anything showing something. A monitor is a display. An all-in-one computer or a laptop has a display. It doesn’t have a monitor. A monitor is a stand-alone device, a display can be part of a device. A display can be tiny, like just displaying hours and minutes on a watch. And mannequins in a shop window can form a display.

A screen is a particular implementation of a display. In the movies you have a projector and a huge screen. A screen is any flat surface displaying an image. A monitor usually has a screen on the front.

And finally, a display monitor is a monitor designed to be seen by many people.

  • 1
    A "monitor" is that nasty teacher in the hallway that tags you for a visit to the office if you're too rowdy.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 22:14
  • +1. However, "a display monitor" is not a thing. As you say earlier, a monitor is a display. Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 23:25
  • 2
    @michael.hor257k -- A "display monitor" is the person standing off to the side at some exhibit, keeping track of its status.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 1:45

A Computer-Monitor generally is a Stand-Alone-Display attached to a Computer.

But you also find the Terms

  • "internal Monitor" (for the built-in Notebook-Display) or
  • "external Monitor" for the Stand-Alone-Display.

Monitor, Display and Screen are often used synonymously. Display is used more often when it is built-in or smaller Monitor and Screen more often mean the larger or free-standing Type.

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