ap·​pa·​ri·​tion | \ ˌa-pə-ˈri-shən How to pronounce apparition (audio) \

Definition of apparition

1a : an unusual or unexpected sight : phenomenon strange apparitions in the sky
b : a ghostly figure reported seeing ghostly apparitions in the old house
2 : the act of becoming visible : appearance the apparition of sunlight through the window

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Other Words from apparition

apparitional \ -​ˈrish-​nəl How to pronounce apparitional (audio) , -​ˈri-​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective

Synonyms for apparition


bogey (also bogie), familiar spirit, ghost, hant [dialect], haunt [chiefly dialect], materialization, phantasm (also fantasm), phantom, poltergeist, shade, shadow, specter (or spectre), spirit, spook, sprite, vision, visitant, wraith

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Examples of apparition in a Sentence

an eccentric who claimed to have photographed an apparition in her very own house

Recent Examples on the Web

Would cirrus clouds bring the most apparitions, or cumulonimbus? María Gainza, Harper's magazine, "Both Sides Now," 10 May 2019 William & Mary’s President’s House, which is on several campus ghost walks, reportedly has apparitions, says Ms. Rowe. Kris Frieswick, WSJ, "The Multimillion-Dollar Homes on Campus Where Rent is Free," 4 Oct. 2018 But there's also an intensely melancholy story buried under the surface, told through ghostly apparitions and scraps of information left behind by the long departed. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Ars Technica’s best games of 2018," 24 Dec. 2018 Teeny tiny apparitions which appear to be floating and glowing. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Dollar-Store Tea Lights Make the Most Boo-tiful Halloween Ghosts Ever," 2 Oct. 2018 In the photo, an apparition of Honest Abe seemingly lingers over his wife Mary Todd Lincoln's shoulders in a print by William H. Mumler, a notorious spirit photographer. Zoe Miller, Good Housekeeping, "This "Ghost Portrait" of Abraham Lincoln Is Creepy and Cool," 30 Oct. 2015 The video, which dropped at 9 AM EST on October 10, features Camila walking through a park in the fall, wearing a pink coat and singing, as apparitions of herself and Dylan in happier times flit before her eyes. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "Dylan Sprouse and Camila Cabello Kiss in New "Consequences" Music Video," 10 Oct. 2018 Trouble begins almost immediately, as the children in particular hear strange creaking sounds, barking dogs, loud banging on the walls at night, and see the odd apparition. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Haunting of Hill House," 22 Oct. 2018 Tales of apparitions and voices coming seemingly from nowhere are rampant amongst these macho, Latino men. Tom Fowlks, Popular Mechanics, "The Floating Crane That Went From Tending Nazi U-Boats To Fixing the Panama Canal," 1 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'apparition.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of apparition

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for apparition

Middle English apparicion, borrowed from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French appariciun "appearance," borrowed from Medieval Latin appāritiōn-, appāritiō "appearance, supernatural manifestation, Epiphany," going back to Late Latin, "appearance" (Latin, "service, attendance"), from Latin appāri-, variant stem of appārēre "to be visible, be evident, attend, serve" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at appear

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Statistics for apparition

Last Updated

17 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for apparition

The first known use of apparition was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for apparition



English Language Learners Definition of apparition

formal : a ghost or spirit of a dead person


ap·​pa·​ri·​tion | \ ˌa-pə-ˈri-shən How to pronounce apparition (audio) \

Kids Definition of apparition

1 : ghost
2 : an unusual or unexpected sight What it was, whether bear or man … the terror of this new apparition brought me to a stand.— Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island

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Comments on apparition

What made you want to look up apparition? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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