figment

noun

fig·​ment ˈfig-mənt How to pronounce figment (audio)
: something made up or contrived

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 alliance forged between American diplomacy and modern art against Soviet propaganda isn’t a figment of the author’s hyperactive imagination. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 3 Feb. 2024 But is the spider real or a figment of Jakub's imagination? Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 16 Jan. 2024 Sometimes this country doesn’t seem to stand at all, but instead to be a figment of our individual and collective imaginations—small bubbles, communities that overlap or sit side by side, sometimes in harmony, often in opposition, but somehow still holding together. Kim Ghattas, The Atlantic, 26 Jan. 2024 Christie’s entire conceit is a fiction, a figment, a mirage — that is, a lie. Varad Mehta, Washington Examiner, 28 Dec. 2023 Hell is a hallucinatory figment, but the streets of Los Angeles can get uncomfortably hot too. Daniel Miller, Los Angeles Times, 22 Dec. 2023 The international threat is still a figment of the BJP’s imagination. Hartosh Singh Bal, Foreign Affairs, 8 Dec. 2023 In the penultimate episode, Elizabeth Lail and Victoria Pedretti come back as figments of Joe’s imagination, encouraging him to take his own life. Christy Piña, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Mar. 2023 His eyes ablaze with fear, his reflexes conditioned for the next blow, this Match Seller clarifies (as the radio play version has difficulty doing) that the character isn’t merely a figment of the couple’s imagination. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 28 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'figment.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near figment

Cite this Entry

“Figment.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/figment. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

figment

noun
fig·​ment ˈfig-mənt How to pronounce figment (audio)
: something imagined or made up

More from Merriam-Webster on figment

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