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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from apparition

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

Synonyms for apparition


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Cox wore a black tuxedo gown and mesh gloves over manicured hands—a glamorous apparition from pre-COVID days. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "Chase Strangio’s Victories for Transgender Rights," 12 Oct. 2020 The property was once a hospital, and some guests now report seeing the apparition of a woman in white in the halls. Elizabeth Rhodes, Travel + Leisure, "The Most Haunted Cities in America and the Ghosts That Call Them Home," 26 Sep. 2020 It’s age, the passing of time and the crumbling of plaster, that formed the apparition of a young woman who lived, without aging, frozen between the third and fourth floors. Scott Korb, Longreads, "Lloyd’s Mattress," 26 May 2020 In the doorway appeared a flame-haired apparition in cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, a cigarette dangling from her lips. Guy Trebay,, "Roberto Faraone Mennella, jewelry innovator, 48," 11 June 2020 His body nothing more than an apparition, imperceptible in this space. Jeremy O. Harris, New York Times, "Jeremy O. Harris: Brandon Taylor ‘Subjugates Us With the Deft Hand of a Dom’," 18 Feb. 2020 The annual prayer service also commemorates the final apparition of the Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal in 1917. Jennifer Johnson,, "What’s happening in Park Ridge: Maine South homecoming parade steps off Saturday; ‘Micro Marathon,’ Rosary in the Park scheduled," 2 Oct. 2019 Eventually, a chapel, school and convent were built near the site of the apparitions in Robinsonville, a tiny community now named Champion located about 15 miles northeast of Green Bay. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Coronavirus changed so much at Wisconsin's Marian apparition shrine. But people still come for peace, solace.," 26 Mar. 2020 Grief is love’s backward apparition standing behind you in the mirror. Kyle Whitmire, al, "In grief for normal life," 24 Mar. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about apparition

Time Traveler for apparition

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for apparition

Last Updated

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Apparition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for apparition


How to pronounce apparition (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Here Be Dragons: A Creature Identification Quiz

  • monster werewolf photo
  • Which is a synonym of werewolf?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!