Allusion and illusion may share some portion of their ancestry (both words come in part from the Latin word ludere, meaning “to play”), and sound quite similar, but they are distinct words with very different meanings. An allusion is an indirect reference, whereas an illusion is something that is unreal or incorrect. Each of the nouns has a related verb form: allude “to refer indirectly to,” and illude (not a very common word), which may mean “to delude or deceive” or “to subject to an illusion.”
delusion implies an inability to distinguish between what is real and what only seems to be real, often as the result of a disordered state of mind.
delusions of persecution
illusion implies a false ascribing of reality based on what one sees or imagines.
an illusion of safety
hallucination implies impressions that are the product of disordered senses, as because of mental illness or drugs.
suffered from terrifying hallucinations
mirage in its extended sense applies to an illusory vision, dream, hope, or aim.
claimed a balanced budget is a mirage
Examples of illusion in a Sentence
The video game is designed to give the illusion that you are in control of an airplane.
They used paint to create the illusion of metal.
She says that all progress is just an illusion.
Recent Examples on the WebThe video begins with Lipa practicing alone in a dance hall, but Black Swan–esque mirror illusions soon have her disappearing and reappearing alongside shifting numbers of backup dancers.—Vulture, 9 Nov. 2023 The illusion technique known as Pepper’s ghost will be used to revivify some, while video animation, light projection, soundscaping, AI, CGI, and other forms of sensory stimulation will be variously employed to weave a contextual fabric of understanding around each piece.—Luke Leitch, Vogue, 8 Nov. 2023 Everything will be brought to life in a innovative way through the use of technology — from video animation, light projection and AI to Pepper's ghost, an illusion technique — to create an immersive sensorial experience.—Michelle Lee, Peoplemag, 8 Nov. 2023 The idea that Black Americans could act alone, Rustin believed, was a theatrical illusion.—Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 6 Nov. 2023 Excavating the subconscious, however, has never been a Ruscha priority, and anyway this kind of flexing between flat surface and illusion is far older than Surrealism.—Susan Tallman, The New York Review of Books, 2 Nov. 2023 To create her fabulous, acrobatic illusion, Klum stood on one performer's knees in the center, while her attendants stretched their legs behind her to form the bird's wings.—Glamour, 1 Nov. 2023 After the brush test, a number of the fibers looked disturbed, creating the illusion that the rug was lighter in certain spots.—Kathleen Felton, Better Homes & Gardens, 31 Oct. 2023 There was also the grim fact that Hamas had, in the most brutal fashion, shattered the illusion that a state could provide Israelis the guarantee of security.—David Remnick, The New Yorker, 28 Oct. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'illusion.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin illusion-, illusio, from Latin, action of mocking, from illudere to mock at, from in- + ludere to play, mock — more at ludicrous