il·lu·so·ry | \i-ˈlüs-rē, -ˈlüz-;-ˈlü-sə-, -zə-\

Definition of illusory 

: based on or producing illusion : deceptive illusory hopes

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from illusory

illusorily \i-ˈlüs-rə-lē, -ˈlüz-; -ˈlü-sə-, -zə- \ adverb
illusoriness \i-ˈlüs-rē-nəs, -ˈlüz-; -ˈlü-sə-, -zə- \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for illusory

apparent, illusory, seeming, ostensible mean not actually being what appearance indicates. apparent suggests appearance to unaided senses that may or may not be borne out by more rigorous examination or greater knowledge. the apparent cause of the accident illusory implies a false impression based on deceptive resemblance or faulty observation, or influenced by emotions that prevent a clear view. an illusory sense of security seeming implies a character in the thing observed that gives it the appearance, sometimes through intent, of something else. the seeming simplicity of the story ostensible suggests a discrepancy between an openly declared or naturally implied aim or reason and the true one. the ostensible reason for their visit

Examples of illusory in a Sentence

an illusory sense of security

Recent Examples on the Web

The delineation between user and dealer is inexact and often illusory. Josie Duffy Rice, The Atlantic, "The Gospel According to Pusha T," 12 July 2018 However illusory, however briefly, the weak can topple the strong, and the great chasms of the world seem to shrink. Kanishk Tharoor, The Atlantic, "The Elusive Underdog Magic of the World Cup," 14 July 2018 But some scientists have argued that the potential physical benefits from intense training will be illusory if people do not complete the workouts. Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, "Hate High-Intensity Exercise? Try It. You Might Like It.," 30 May 2018 Now, some people think that one dark, fizzy high-fructose corn syrup-sweetened drink is pretty much the same as another, and that the choice between Pepsi and Coke is illusory. Polly Campbell,, "Polly Campbell: Coke back at Frisch's. Here's what it means," 18 June 2018 So, according to their own university president, those students who voted for Mr. Trump embraced hate and fractiousness and illusory yesterdays. WSJ, "Bias Response Teams Tend to Bend One Way," 29 June 2018 The notion of a national child welfare system, with coherent trends and corresponding lessons, is somewhat illusory. The Christian Science Monitor, "Extending compassion beyond migrant kids," 26 June 2018 This belief strikes against the core theme of Kudos, which is that such frameworks, particularly of the self-mythologizing variety, are illusory and misguided. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "The Empty Space of Rachel Cusk," 15 June 2018 With rates rising and the Fed’s pile of Treasurys being sold down, those gains might prove illusory. James Mackintosh, WSJ, "A Decade Later, U.S. Stocks Behave Like Lehman Never Happened," 4 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'illusory.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of illusory

circa 1631, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about illusory

Statistics for illusory

Last Updated

26 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for illusory

The first known use of illusory was circa 1631

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for illusory



English Language Learners Definition of illusory

: based on something that is not true or real : based on an illusion


il·lu·so·ry | \i-ˈlü-sə-rē \

Kids Definition of illusory

: based on something that is not true or real an illusory hope


il·lu·so·ry | \il-ˈüs-(ə-)rē, -ˈüz- \

Medical Definition of illusory 

: based on or producing illusion : being deceptive the search for the ultimate cure-all for a hangover has proved illusory— M. L. Herndon

Keep scrolling for more


il·lu·so·ry | \i-ˈlü-sə-rē, -zə-rē \

Legal Definition of illusory 

: likely to mislead or deceive : false, deceptive an illusory plea bargain leading to a longer sentence than expected

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on illusory

Spanish Central: Translation of illusory

Nglish: Translation of illusory for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of illusory for Arabic Speakers

Comments on illusory

What made you want to look up illusory? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!