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

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 Here, the land itself, with its harsh wells of volcanic rock and more than 200 anchialine ponds, intrudes upon the illusion, and the developers pride themselves on not blasting and flattening them to oblivion for the sake of curb appeal. Soleil Ho, GQ, "Kohanaiki: Where the Mega-Rich Hide Away on Hawai'i," 20 Apr. 2018 Louisville's most famous magician, Lance Burton, is known for breathtaking illusions and feats of wonder. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "This Shively magician snagged a coveted spot on the 'Lance Burton & Friends' magic show," 20 Mar. 2018 Those who like him never had the illusion that this was in his personal life an exemplary person. NBC News, "Meet the Press - March 11, 2018," 11 Mar. 2018 Con artists have long known that a uniform bolsters an illusion, and Derek was fond of dressing up in scrubs and military fatigues. Rachel Monroe, The Atlantic, "The Perfect Man Who Wasn't," 6 Mar. 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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Phrases Related to illusion

under the illusion

Statistics for illusion

Last Updated

19 Oct 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).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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