il·lu·sion | \i-ˈlü-zhən \

Definition of illusion 

1a(1) : a misleading image presented to the vision

(2) : something that deceives or misleads intellectually

b(1) : perception of something objectively existing in such a way as to cause misinterpretation of its actual nature

(2) : hallucination sense 1

(3) : a pattern capable of reversible perspective

2a(1) : the state or fact of being intellectually deceived or misled : misapprehension

(2) : an instance of such deception

b obsolete : the action of deceiving

3 : a fine plain transparent bobbinet or tulle usually made of silk and used for veils, trimmings, and dresses

Illustration of illusion

Illustration of illusion

illusion 1a(1): a and b are equal in length

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from illusion

illusional \i-ˈlüzh-nəl, -ˈlü-zhə-nᵊl \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for illusion

delusion, illusion, hallucination, mirage mean something that is believed to be true or real but that is actually false or unreal. 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

Allusion and Illusion

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.”

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

There can be no illusions now that a popular and homegrown star is sold. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "Explaining — not endorsing — what the Royals are doing in rebuilding the franchise," 20 June 2018 Multitasking makes emotional labor look easy, but this is mere illusion. Katie Arnold, Outside Online, "Childhood Adventures Wouldn't Happen Without Moms," 30 May 2018 Belief in the resource curse may partly rest on a statistical illusion. The Economist, "Wakandanomics," 28 Mar. 2018 This is just a lucky illusion some of us can live for a period of time. Abigail Rasminsky, Longreads, "Dance Me to the End of Love," 8 Jan. 2018 The belief that appreciable changes of climate occur within the compass of human memory is at least 99 percent illusion. Popular Mechanics, "We've Been Talking About Climate Change for a Hundred Years," 4 Jan. 2018 Everything, despite the illusion of being casual, felt choreographed. Joey Guerra, Houston Chronicle, "Justin Timberlake pushes against the pop flash on Man of the Woods Tour," 24 May 2018 Mr Maduro faces enough opposition to provide the illusion of a real contest. The Economist, "As Venezuelans go hungry, their government holds a farcical election," 17 May 2018 Students used loose bricks strewn about to finish off the illusion. Hollie Silverman, CNN, "This isn't a car crash. This is one of the best senior pranks cops ever saw," 16 May 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

History and Etymology for illusion

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about illusion

Dictionary Entries near illusion








Phrases Related to illusion

under the illusion

Statistics for illusion

Last Updated

5 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for illusion

The first known use of illusion was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for illusion



English Language Learners Definition of illusion

: something that looks or seems different from what it is : something that is false or not real but that seems to be true or real

: an incorrect idea : an idea that is based on something that is not true


il·lu·sion | \i-ˈlü-zhən \

Kids Definition of illusion

1 : something that is false or unreal but seems to be true or real The video game creates the illusion of flying.

2 : a mistaken idea She had no illusions about her chances of winning.


il·lu·sion | \il-ˈü-zhən \

Medical Definition of illusion 

1 : a misleading image presented as a visual stimulus

2a : perception of something objectively existing in such a way as to cause misinterpretation of its actual nature especially : optical illusion — compare delusion sense 2

b : hallucination sense 1

c : a pattern capable of reversible perspective

Other Words from illusion

illusional \-ˈüzh-nəl, -ən-ᵊl \ adjective

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on illusion

What made you want to look up illusion? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not any or not one

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!