What Does Sprite Mean?

A sprite is a type of "stand-alone" computer graphic element that has evolved along with modern computer graphics technologies. A sprite is defined as a two-dimensional image or animated image that plays a specific role, often independently manipulated, within a larger image environment.


Sprites are also known as icons.

Techopedia Explains Sprite

Two fundamentally different types of sprite design involve using hardware circuitry or software programs. The idea of a sprite dates back to the mid-1970s where relatively primitive sprite images first started to be manipulated within a greater visual image, as sets of bitmaps.

As computer graphics developed throughout the decades, sprites changed from simple bitmap or block images to more sophisticated animated GIFs, and then to three-dimensional or more fully animated characters. Modern technologies like Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) also utilize the concept of sprites in what are called sprite sheets, where these individual graphics can be cut down and used in a software or web context. Using a selection of sprites in modern web design can improve page load times and make software display tasks more efficient.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…