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 \ ˌa-​pə-​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

The rogue image flashed first like an apparition, a spectral splash across billboards, spreading from Allentown to Wilmington to Trenton. Jacob Feldman,, "Mystery: Who Bought Those ‘Zeke Who?’ Billboards in Philadelphia?," 29 Aug. 2019 Executed on translucent silk that reveals the underlying structure of the stretcher bars, the painting itself feels like an apparition. Sharon Mizota,, "Art as a portal to Korean ancestors? The mesmerizing work of Hanna Hur," 1 July 2019 One is a terrific documentary about a glorious writer, returning to town; one, a true rarity, is a ghostly apparition from the year 1931, revealing a side of our city rarely seen on film. Michael Phillips,, "Need a couple of movies to tell you the truth? You’re in luck. They’re coming to Chicago.," 15 Aug. 2019 Up to that point, the boy has simply been terrified by the ghostly apparitions that appear around him bearing their gruesome, fatal wounds. Christian Holub,, "M. Night Shyamalan reflects on a classic Sixth Sense scene, 20 years later," 6 Aug. 2019 The aquatic mammal of the title appears as an omen, an apparition, two ships’ names, and carved and painted keepsakes. James Sullivan,, "A deep dive into the tale of Pericles," 13 June 2019 This relatively new apparition on the city’s skyline makes highway passersby wonder what’s happening inside such an arresting structure. David Holahan,, "Connecticut Science Center: Where learning is fun and serious business, too," 11 July 2019 Complicating matters, the instances of luminosity around earthquakes don't all look the same, sparking theories that range from plain old lightning to UFOs and otherworldly apparitions. Christina Nunez, National Geographic, "Earthquake lights, explained," 16 Apr. 2019 That makes the 1859 apparition site, flanked by farmland, a place of pilgrimage for people from around the world. Mary Bergin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "3 small towns for a summer getaway in Wisconsin," 11 July 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 Sep 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).


miscellaneous remnants or debris

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