illusion

noun

il·​lu·​sion i-ˈlü-zhən How to pronounce illusion (audio)
plural illusions
1
a(1)
: a misleading image presented to the vision : optical illusion
(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
(3)
: a pattern capable of reversible perspective
2
a(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
illusional adjective

Illustration of illusion

Illustration of illusion
  • a and b are equal in length

Did you know?

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.”

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

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 Web Unlike traditional alcoholic drinks, mocktails focus on health consciousness and holistic wellness while providing the illusion of an actual cocktail. Dominique Fluker, Essence, 8 July 2024 The excess material creates depth around your waist, forming an hourglass illusion that emphasizes your curves. Madison Yauger, Peoplemag, 8 July 2024 The effect lasts just a few minutes when the sun casts a shadow on the stairway, creating an illusion of a snake creeping slowly down the staircase. Zayda Rivera, Parents, 2 July 2024 But privacy experts and data regulators immediately pushed back against Meta's plan to apply this logic to DMA compliance by charging subscriptions that a consumer protection agency said only seemed to provide the illusion of choice. Ashley Belanger, Ars Technica, 1 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for illusion 

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near illusion

Cite this Entry

“Illusion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/illusion. Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

illusion

noun
il·​lu·​sion il-ˈü-zhən How to pronounce illusion (audio)
1
: a misleading image presented to the eye
2
: the state or fact of being led to accept as true something unreal or imagined
3
: a mistaken idea

Medical Definition

illusion

noun
il·​lu·​sion il-ˈü-zhən How to pronounce illusion (audio)
1
: a misleading image presented as a visual stimulus
2
a
: perception of something objectively existing in such a way as to cause misinterpretation of its actual nature
especially : optical illusion compare delusion sense 2
c
: a pattern capable of reversible perspective
illusional adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on illusion

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