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Definition of phantasm

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Phantasm is from Middle English fantasme , a borrowing from Anglo-French fantasme , which itself is a derivative of Latin and Greek words—and ultimately the Greek verb phantazein , meaning "to present to the mind." The Greek verb took shape from phainein , meaning "to show," and this root appears in several English words that have to do with the way things seem or appear rather than the way they really are. Phantasmagoria and diaphanous are examples. Also from this root are words such as fanciful and fantasy , in which the imagination plays an important part.

  • phantasy
  • hallucination

Examples of phantasm in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'phantasm.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Middle English fantesme, fantosme, fantome, fantom "what has only a seeming reality or value, vanity, illusion, apparition, falsehood," borrowed from Anglo-French fantosme, fantasme, fantesme, fantame (continental Old French fantosme ), borrowed from Latin phantasma "ghost, apparition" (Late Latin also, "mental image, figment, illusion"), borrowed from Greek phántasma "apparition, ghost, vision, dream, (in plural) phenomena, portents," derivative, with the noun suffix -mat-, -ma, corresponding to phantázein "to make visible, present to the eye or mind, (middle voice) place before one's mind, picture to oneself, imagine" — more at fantasy entry 1

Note: The Middle English word bifurcated into two phonetically distinct words in early Modern English, phantasm, which has mostly restored the form of the Latin etymon, and phantom entry 1 , which more directly continues the Middle English original. According to a hypothesis in the Französisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, the -o- in the medieval French forms reflects *fantauma, from a presumed Ionian variant *phántagma of Greek phántasma that would have penetrated Gallo-Romance through contact with Greek speakers in Massilia (ancient Marseille). The -s- in fantosme, fantasme, etc., is an etymological restoration, as [s] would have been lost in such clusters in later medieval French.

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Cite this Entry

“Phantasm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phantasm. Accessed 26 Oct. 2023.

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an apparition or specter.

a creation of the imagination or fancy; fantasy.

a mental image or representation of a real object.

an illusory likeness of something.

Origin of phantasm

  • Sometimes fan·tasm

synonym study For phantasm

Other words for phantasm, words nearby phantasm.

  • phanerophyte
  • Phanerozoic
  • phantasmagoria
  • phantasmagoric
  • phantasmagory

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use phantasm in a sentence

A phantasm is that which, not being a true counterpart of reality, is yet so like it as to be mistaken for reality.

His eyes stared wonderingly at the grotesque face like a lingering phantasm of fevered dreams.

Was all this nothing,—a dream, a splendid phantasm , to be rent away like a crimson cloud?

His desire to be with her was the desire to escape the phantasm of the woman haunting to subjugate him when they were separate.

At times faith grows faint, and I think it all a delusion—a phantasm —a dream.

British Dictionary definitions for phantasm

/ ( ˈfæntæzəm ) /

an illusory perception of an object, person, etc

(in the philosophy of Plato) objective reality as distorted by perception

Derived forms of phantasm

  • phantasmal or phantasmic , adjective
  • phantasmally or phantasmically , adverb

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

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Meaning of phantasm in English

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  • cloud cuckoo land
  • false hopes
  • fictionalization
  • make believe phrase
  • never-never land
  • pie in the sky idiom

Examples of phantasm

Translations of phantasm.

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phantasm definition noun

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Definition of 'phantasm'

Phantasm in british english.

IPA Pronunciation Guide

phantasm in American English

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Definition of phantasm noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

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phantasm definition noun

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    The meaning of PHANTASM is a product of fantasy. How to use phantasm in a sentence. Did you know?

  5. Phantasm Definition & Meaning

    phantasm · an apparition or specter. · a creation of the imagination or fancy; fantasy.


    phantasm definition: 1. something that is seen or imagined but is not real 2. something that is seen or imagined but is…. Learn more.

  7. phantasm noun

    Word OriginMiddle English (in the sense 'deceptive appearance'): from Old French fantasme, via Latin from Greek phantasma, from phantazein 'make visible'

  8. Phantasm definition and meaning

    phantasm in American English · 1. a perception of something that has no physical reality; figment of the mind; esp., a specter, or ghost. : also phanˈtasma (

  9. Phantasm

    The Greek root is phantasma, "image or phantom," with in turn comes from phantazein, "to make visible." Definitions of phantasm. noun. something existing in

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    PHANTASM meaning: something that exists only in a person's mind.

  11. phantasm noun

    Definition of phantasm noun in Oxford Advanced American Dictionary. Meaning, pronunciation, picture, example sentences, grammar, usage notes, synonyms and

  12. phantasm

    Noun Edit · Something seen but having no physical reality; a phantom or apparition. quotations ▽ · (philosophy) A impression as received by the senses

  13. Phantasm Definition & Meaning

    A perception of something that has no physical reality; figment of the mind; esp., a specter, or ghost. Webster's New World. Similar definitions. A

  14. phantasm

    From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishphantasmphan‧tas‧m /ˈfæntæzəm/ noun [countable, uncountable] literaryIMAGINE something that exists only in