illusory

adjective

il·​lu·​so·​ry i-ˈlü-sə-rē How to pronounce illusory (audio) -ˈlü-zə- How to pronounce illusory (audio)
-ˈlüs-,
-ˈlüz-
: based on or producing illusion : deceptive
illusory hopes
illusorily
i-ˈlü-sə-rə-lē How to pronounce illusory (audio)
-ˈlü-zə-;
-ˈlüs-
-ˈlüz-
adverb
illusoriness
i-ˈlü-sə-rē-nəs How to pronounce illusory (audio)
-ˈlü-zə-;
-ˈlüs-
-ˈlüz-
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 His original goal of seizing Kyiv and subjugating Ukraine proved foolish and illusory. William J. Burns, Foreign Affairs, 30 Jan. 2024 But peace is illusory as long as Hamas remains in power. Phil Klay, The Atlantic, 28 Mar. 2024 Nowadays misinformation and fake news pose such a big problem because untrue statements get repeated through retweets, shares, etc. Sunstein: Recognizing the strength of the illusory truth effect can create a degree of inoculation to defend against falsehoods. Jessica Dulong, CNN, 23 Feb. 2024 Featuring all of the hallmarks of an Irwin piece — its use of shadow, light and material to create an intimate, illusory effect — the installation, however incidental, served as something of a fitting tribute to a true master. Seth Combs, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Dec. 2023 Saito highlights the Netherlands Fallacy, named for that country’s illusory attainment of both high living standards and low levels of pollution—a reality achieved by displacing externalities. E. Tammy Kim, The New Yorker, 1 Feb. 2024 Given China’s travails under Xi, such a vision is as illusory as ever. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 17 Jan. 2024 Odom was but one victim of this illusory science; a 2015 report found hundreds of cases in which hair examiners made erroneous statements in inculpating defendants, including 33 cases that sent defendants to death row, nine of whom were already executed by the time the report saw daylight. David Robert Grimes, Scientific American, 8 Dec. 2023 The Rise of Deceptive Before-and-After Photos on Social Media What’s behind the sharp uptick in illusory images? Jolene Edgar, Allure, 1 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'illusory.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1631, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of illusory was circa 1631

Dictionary Entries Near illusory

Cite this Entry

“Illusory.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/illusory. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

illusory

adjective
il·​lu·​so·​ry il-ˈüs-(ə-)rē How to pronounce illusory (audio)
-ˈüz-
: based on or producing illusion : deceptive
an illusory hope

Medical Definition

illusory

adjective
il·​lu·​so·​ry il-ˈüs-(ə-)rē How to pronounce illusory (audio) -ˈüz- How to pronounce illusory (audio)
: based on or producing illusion : being deceptive
the search for the ultimate cure-all for a hangover has proved illusoryM. L. Herndon

Legal Definition

illusory

adjective
il·​lu·​so·​ry i-ˈlü-sə-rē, -zə-rē How to pronounce illusory (audio)
: likely to mislead or deceive : false, deceptive
an illusory plea bargain leading to a longer sentence than expected
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