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

Example Sentences

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 Thoughtful furnishings help the room function efficiently: A canopy bed gives the illusion of airiness and a hanging chair offers a snug place to sit without crowding floor space. Marni Elyse Katz, House Beautiful, 11 Nov. 2022 In addition to delivering instant results, these tickets, like Ikea furniture, offer the appeal of active participation, which gives players the illusion of exercising some control over the outcome. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, 17 Oct. 2022 From there, add a luminous foundation, highlighter and cream blush that gives the illusion of round, rosy cheeks. Taylor Lane, Peoplemag, 12 Oct. 2022 The longer inseam gives the illusion of height; pair with pointy pumps à la Diesel for an extra boost. Alison S. Cohn, Harper's BAZAAR, 27 Sep. 2022 The flow of the trousers gives the illusion of a maxi skirt, but don’t be fooled. Alexis Gaskin, Glamour, 6 May 2022 This makes the lips appear a shade lighter, which gives the subtle illusion of fullness. Megan Decker, refinery29.com, 14 Mar. 2022 James Nunn had talked about making a film like this for a long time, even before 1917 was released, which also had the illusion of being filmed in one continuous shot. Angela Dawson, Forbes, 2 Nov. 2021 So nobody should have the illusion of thinking that’s also not our responsibility. Los Angeles Times, 24 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

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 4 Dec. 2022.

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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