Dictionary

phenomenon

noun phe·nom·e·non \fi-ˈnä-mə-ˌnän, -nən\

: something (such as an interesting fact or event) that can be observed and studied and that typically is unusual or difficult to understand or explain fully

: someone or something that is very impressive or popular especially because of an unusual ability or quality

plural phe·nom·e·na \-nə, -ˌnä\ or phe·nom·e·nons

Full Definition of PHENOMENON

1
plural phenomena :  an observable fact or event
2
plural phenomena
a :  an object or aspect known through the senses rather than by thought or intuition
b :  a temporal or spatiotemporal object of sensory experience as distinguished from a noumenon
c :  a fact or event of scientific interest susceptible to scientific description and explanation
3
a :  a rare or significant fact or event
b plural phenomenons :  an exceptional, unusual, or abnormal person, thing, or occurrence

Usage Discussion of PHENOMENON

Phenomena has been in occasional use as a singular for more than 400 years and its plural phenomenas for more than 350. Our evidence shows that it is primarily a speech form used by poets, critics, and professors, among others, but one that sometimes turns up in edited prose <the Borgia were, in modern terms, a media phenomenaEconomist>. It is etymologically no more irregular than stamina, agenda, and candelabra, but it has nowhere near the frequency of use that they have, and while they are standard, phenomena is still rather borderline.
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Examples of PHENOMENON

  1. natural phenomena like lightning and earthquakes
  2. the greatest literary phenomenon of the decade
  3. The movie eventually became a cultural phenomenon.
  4. For example, we talk more loudly in cars, because of a phenomenon known as the Lombard effect—the speaker involuntarily raises his voice to compensate for background noise. —John Seabrook, New Yorker, 23 June 2008

Origin of PHENOMENON

Late Latin phaenomenon, from Greek phainomenon, from neuter of phainomenos, present participle of phainesthai to appear, middle voice of phainein to show — more at fancy
First Known Use: 1605
PHENOMENON Defined for Kids

phenomenon

noun phe·nom·e·non \fi-ˈnä-mə-ˌnän\
plural phe·nom·e·na \-nə\ or phe·nom·e·nons

Definition of PHENOMENON for Kids

1
plural phenomena :  an observable fact or event
2
:  a rare or important fact or event
3
plural phenomenons :  an extraordinary or exceptional person or thing
Medical Dictionary

phenomenon

noun phe·nom·e·non \fi-ˈnäm-ə-ˌnän, -nən\
plural phe·nom·e·na \-nə, -ˌnä\

Medical Definition of PHENOMENON

1
:  an observable fact or event
2
a :  an object or aspect known through the senses rather than by thought or intuition b :  a fact or event of scientific interest susceptible of scientific description and explanation

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