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what you see is what you get



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Originally a humorous allusion to a catchphrase popularized by comedian Flip Wilson on US TV in the 1960s.


what you see is what you get

  1. The image corresponds to the reality.
    • 1970, Tim Rice, Jesus Christ Superstar
      What you see is what you get. No one's been disappointed yet.
    • 1992, Rudolf M. Schuster, The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America: East of the Hundredth Meridian, volume V, page vii
      With fresh material, taxonomic conclusions are leavened by recognition that the material examined reflects the site it occupied; a herbarium packet gives one only a small fraction of the data desirable for sound conclusions. Herbarium material does not, indeed, allow one to extrapolate safely: what you see is what you get []
  2. (idiomatic, computing) The screen image resembles the printed output.
    • 1983, Byte‎, volume 8, page 86:
      For:Word, like Wang's editing system, is an early approach to a what-you-see-is-what-you-get word processor.

Usage notesEdit

  • computing sense often used attributively.