il·​lu·​sion | \ i-ˈlü-zhən How to pronounce illusion (audio) \
plural illusions

Definition of illusion

1a(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
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 How to pronounce illusional (audio) , -​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 Loze plays every part in the video, creating an illusion of multiple aspects of herself interacting seamlessly with each other in real time and space. Steven Litt, cleveland, "Cleveland Institute of Art’s ‘Title TBD’ show surveys artists’ survival strategies in an age of anxiety," 6 Sep. 2020 There's also the issue of congestion, which can give the illusion of larger or more obvious pores. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "No, Pores Do Not Open and Close," 25 Aug. 2020 This corkscrewing motion balances out in an overall forward trajectory, creating the illusion of symmetry from asymmetry. Charlotte Hartley, Science | AAAS, "Watch a 3D video reveal how sperm really swim," 31 July 2020 Unlike most scientists who study illusions, Clark didn’t examine this illusion in humans and other primates. Grace Huckins, Wired, "What Virtual Reality for Flies Teaches Us About Human Vision," 28 Aug. 2020 That is when the illusion shattered and Vicente decided to talk. Sarah Midkiff,, "Every Major Player From The New HBO NXIVM Docuseries The Vow, Explained," 24 Aug. 2020 Cummins wanted to be a bridge, but a bridge has to have a solid foundation on both sides of a gulf, and ultimately, her bridge is planted firmly in American dirt, swirling up and up into American illusion, never landing on the opposite bank. Sarah Menkedick, Longreads, "American Dirt: A Bridge to Nowhere," 10 Aug. 2020 By mixing colors and utilizing shading techniques, Fairchild creates the illusion of 3D nipples protruding from the breast. Marygrace Taylor, Good Housekeeping, "How This Mastectomy Tattoo Artist Juggles Her Own Breast Cancer and Advocating for Others," 7 Aug. 2020 Steinmeyer doesn’t know how the safe illusion works. José Mandojana, Popular Mechanics, "How a Legendary Magician Builds the World's Greatest Illusions," 2 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for illusion

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for illusion

Last Updated

12 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Illusion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for illusion


How to pronounce illusion (audio)

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 How to pronounce illusion (audio) \

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 How to pronounce illusion (audio) \

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
c : a pattern capable of reversible perspective

Other Words from illusion

illusional \ -​ˈüzh-​nəl, -​ən-​ᵊl How to pronounce illusional (audio) \ adjective

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Comments on illusion

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