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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The illusion of intimacy and authority conveyed by filming inside the White House grounds is why each network has a camera stationed on the little strip on the driveway leading to the West Wing. William Mcgurn, WSJ, "The Jim Acosta Hour," 19 Nov. 2018 The illusion that America's always been a welcoming country is just patently false. CBS News, "California voters weigh in on fierce debate over immigration," 26 June 2018 The most important illusion that Ms. Merkel sought to maintain was that EU taxpayer money was not being used to prop up German and French banks that lent to Greece. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "The Eurozone’s 19th Nervous Breakdown," 9 Nov. 2018 The illusion shows how stimuli that occur later can affect the perception of stimuli that have already occurred. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "This Optical Illusion Will Have Your Brain Rushing To Fill In The Blanks," 11 Oct. 2018 Don Quixote’ The National Ballet of the Ukraine, on tour in celebration of its 150th anniversary, presents Cervantes’ tale of nobility, illusions and a return to chivalry, put to glorious music and dance. Chris Kaltenbach,, "Ne-Yo, 'Don Quixote' and celebrating the savior of Little Italy: the best of this week's arts and entertainment scene in Baltimore," 27 May 2018 Solo leans into that rollicking atmosphere, making no illusions about the fact that this is a heist caper/origin story about one of pop culture's most arrogant, stubborn, lovable bad boys., "Solo: A Star Wars Story," 15 May 2018 There’s a huge Reddit community of 114,000-plus people who post and discuss silent videos that have the illusion of making noise. Brian Resnick, Vox, "Can you hear these silent GIFs? You may have a new form of synesthesia.," 3 May 2018 Heath's superhero will be named simply 'Tobin' and her powers will include illusions and energy manipulation. Jamie Goldberg,, "Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson offers sneak peek of renovated training facility," 30 Apr. 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.

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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

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Statistics for illusion

Last Updated

30 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for illusion

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

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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

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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).


to enclose within walls

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