fig·​ment | \ ˈfig-mənt How to pronounce figment (audio) \

Definition of figment

: something made up or contrived

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Did You Know?

A figment is something formed from imaginary elements. Daydreams are figments; nightmares are figments that can seem very real. Most figments are everyday fears and hopes about small things that turn out to be imaginary. But when the radio play "The War of the Worlds" aired in 1938, it caused a panic among thousands of people who didn't realize the Martian invasion was just a figment of the author's imagination.

Examples of figment in a Sentence

unable to find any tracks in the snow the next morning, I was forced to conclude that the shadowy figure had been a figment of my imagination thus far, the invisible human being has been nothing more than a figment of fantasy writers

Recent Examples on the Web

The conjecture says that the Cauchy horizon is a figment of mathematical thought. Quanta Magazine, "Mathematicians Disprove Conjecture Made to Save Black Holes," 17 May 2018 Byrne said, when asked to explain his interest over nine decades in finding creatures widely believed to be figments of imagination, or the inventions of con men. Dan Mangan, NBC News, "FBI releases 'Bigfoot' documents from 1970s," 6 June 2019 Like a brain, a deep neural network has layers of neurons — artificial ones that are figments of computer memory. Quanta Magazine, "New Theory Cracks Open the Black Box of Deep Learning," 21 Sep. 2017 Rick’s was just the figment of a writer’s imagination. New York Times, "‘Play It Again, Issam’: In Casablanca, a Cafe Is Still a Cafe," 1 July 2018 Honolulu, Hawaii History lesson: Are Honolulu's ghosts just figments of the imagination after a long hot day and one too many piña coladas? Condé Nast Traveler, "8 Most Haunted Cities In America and Why You Should Visit," 18 Oct. 2018 In a twist on ID theft, criminals are deploying figments of their imaginations, in what is often called synthetic-identity fraud. Annamaria Andriotis, WSJ, "The New ID Theft: Millions of Credit Applicants Who Don’t Exist," 6 Mar. 2018 Fertilizing in early spring and every year are two huge figments of overly aggressive advertising, not true need. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, "Plants starting to look a little crowded? Here’s how to thin them out," 28 June 2018 Until Sunday night, its centerpiece was an overhyped guard whose star status had been exposed as a figment of his father’s imagination. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Lakers hope LeBron will help them reclaim spotlight of Showtime era," 2 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'figment.' 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 figment

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for figment

Middle English, "fable, deceitful practice," borrowed from Latin figmentum "thing formed, image, invention," from fig-, variant stem of fingere "to mold, fashion, make a likeness of, pretend to be" + -mentum -ment — more at feign

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Statistics for figment

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for figment

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

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More Definitions for figment



English Language Learners Definition of figment

: something produced by the imagination : something that does not really exist


fig·​ment | \ ˈfig-mənt\

Kids Definition of figment

: something imagined or made up I thought I saw her, but it must have been a figment of my imagination.

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More from Merriam-Webster on figment

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with figment

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for figment

Spanish Central: Translation of figment

Britannica English: Translation of figment for Arabic Speakers

Comments on figment

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characterized by aphorism

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