il·​lu·​so·​ry i-ˈlü-sə-rē How to pronounce illusory (audio) -ˈlü-zə- How to pronounce illusory (audio)
: based on or producing illusion : deceptive
illusory hopes
i-ˈlü-sə-rə-lē How to pronounce illusory (audio)
i-ˈlü-sə-rē-nəs How to pronounce illusory (audio)
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

Example Sentences

an illusory sense of security
Recent Examples on the Web But the supply worries are easing, and may have been illusory. George Calhoun, Forbes, 3 Oct. 2022 Could the bevy of anomalously big and bright early galaxies be illusory, perhaps because of flaws in analysis of the telescope’s initial observations? Jonathan O'callaghan, Scientific American, 14 Sep. 2022 It’s also an extended rumination on the illusory, entropic nature of the cinematic medium itself. Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, 18 Aug. 2022 But any promised benefit from this arrangement is illusory. Michael Buschbacher, WSJ, 7 Aug. 2022 Frontier Chairman William Franke on Monday urged Spirit shareholders to vote for the Frontier deal and said JetBlue’s proposal is illusory and likely to be blocked by antitrust regulators. Alison Sider, WSJ, 27 June 2022 Three decades after Gorbachev’s speech, the respite now seems illusory. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, 23 Apr. 2022 In this imaginary world, the direction pointing into the interior seems illusory, like the depth of a hologram. Quanta Magazine, 20 Apr. 2022 Congress must resolve that executive agreements are illusory and unenforceable, so that other nations are reminded that the United States recognizes only obligations accepted under American law — treaties and statutes. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, 19 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



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

Medical Definition



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 illusory M. L. Herndon

Legal Definition



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
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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