What Does Lossy Mean?

Lossy is a data encoding and compression technique that deliberately discards some data in the compression process. The lossy compression method filters and discards needless and redundant data to reduce the amount of data being compressed and later being executed on a computer.


Lossy is derived from the word loss, which defines the primary objective of this technique.

Techopedia Explains Lossy

Lossy data compression is primarily used for digital multimedia, such as audio, video, images and streaming data. By using lossy, the sizes of these data types can be reduced much further, which ensures easy delivery over the Internet or for offline use.

Lossy works by eliminating unnecessary or additional information contained in most multimedia files. For example, a JPEG image can be reduced by up to 80 percent of its original size without substantially affecting image quality. This can be achieved by decreasing the number of pixels, brightness and color density. Similarly, background audio sounds are removed in MP3 and MPEG without creating much difference in the end-user experience.


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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…