In English language UIs, is it preferable to describe a computer's ephemeral data visual data output device as a "monitor", "display", "screen", or something else?

All three of those English words can be used as verbs and nouns, leading to a little potential confusion.

Is there a standard or commonly accepted recommendation?

  • Generally, I would say a "monitor" is actually the whole thing, where as a screen or display would be a part of the monitor. I think really it depends on what exactly you are trying to say and the context of where you are saying it. For example, a desktop PC would have a monitor, but a tablet device would not.
    – musefan
    Jul 6, 2020 at 14:02
  • @musefan Good point. Ideally, it would be a single term that can be used across platforms (desktop computer, laptop, tablet, etc.). What's interesting is that the term "monitor" seems to possibly be best for desktop computers, but isn't really used for tablets (as you pointed out). Jul 6, 2020 at 14:51
  • Well, I think in the IT industry "Screen" would be universally understood for all cases, however if your target audience is less technical then that might not work.
    – musefan
    Jul 7, 2020 at 6:33
  • I'd like to know more about the context - often referring specifically to the display output of a feature or information can limit its accessibility to, for example, users of screen readers.
    – Natalie L
    Jul 7, 2020 at 21:38

1 Answer 1


I think now the 'screen' is more platform independent term. Here is citation from some web resource which seemes to be relevant:

An output screen is a device used to display output. An output screen could be a separate monitor or another display device used only to display the output being received from the computer or other devices.

  • In a head up display in a car, the screen is literally the windscreen.
    – PhillipW
    Aug 9, 2020 at 14:58

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