mi·​rage | \ mə-ˈräzh \

Definition of mirage

1 : an optical (see optical sense 2a) effect that is sometimes seen at sea, in the desert, or over a hot pavement, that may have the appearance of a pool of water or a mirror in which distant objects are seen inverted, and that is caused by the bending or reflection of rays of light by a layer of heated air of varying density
2 : something illusory and unattainable like a mirage A peaceful solution proved to be a mirage.

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Choose the Right Synonym for mirage

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

Mirage and Vision

A mirage is a sort of optical illusion, a reflection of light that can trick the mind into interpreting the sight as an apparently solid thing. It makes sense, therefore, that the word mirage has its roots in the concept of vision. Mirage was borrowed into English at the dawn of the 19th century from the French verb mirer ("to look at"), which also gave us the word mirror. Mirer in turn derives from Latin mirari ("to wonder at"). Mirari is also the ancestor of the English words admire, miracle, and marvel, as well as the rare adjective mirific (meaning "marvelous").

Examples of mirage in a Sentence

A peaceful solution proved to be a mirage.

Recent Examples on the Web

But the lesson of the last few shutdowns is that nobody really seems to win or lose anymore and therefore any leverage is a mirage. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Why the blame game over the government shutdown is pointless," 21 Dec. 2018 A year later, economic data shows that the tax bill’s benefit to workers was largely a mirage. Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "The GOP tax bill only gave workers 2 cents more per hour in bonuses," 18 Dec. 2018 So the ostensibly high number of undecideds in the Times House polling might be a bit of a mirage. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Six important facts about the voters still undecided in the 2018 midterms.," 22 Oct. 2018 RF Shannon’s Trickster Blues is the sound of a shimmering desert mirage, a solitary, widescreen drive in search of an epic spaghetti western. Staff, The Christian Science Monitor, "Top Picks: Jess Williamson's 'Cosmic Wink,' 'Black Panther' on DVD and Blu-ray, and more," 1 June 2018 Yet the lure of the capital often proves to be a mirage. Simon Denyer, Washington Post, "Mongolia’s nomadic way of life threatened by climate change, neglect, modernity," 8 July 2018 That first start was no mirage as the colt is now 5-for-5 and will be favored to win the Triple Crown. Dick Jerardi, Philly.com, "Bob Baffert a good reason to believe in Justify winning at Belmont Stakes," 7 June 2018 This was never going to happen': Was that whole North Korea summit thing a mirage? Josh Hafner, USA TODAY, "OnPolitics Today: Give us your tired and poor, Americans say, just not those ones," 24 May 2018 Now, as the afterglow of the Trump-Kim tete-a-tete wears off the prospect of any kind of easy North Korean solution is looking — unsurprisingly — like a mirage. Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "North Korea Calls U.S. Diplomatic Posture ‘Regrettable’," 7 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mirage.' 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 mirage

1800, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for mirage

borrowed from French, from mirer "to look at, gaze at" (going back to Old French, going back to Latin mīrārī "to be surprised, look with wonder at") + -age -age — more at admire

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Statistics for mirage

Last Updated

7 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for mirage

The first known use of mirage was in 1800

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More Definitions for mirage



English Language Learners Definition of mirage

: something (such as a pool of water in the middle of a desert) that is seen and appears to be real but that is not actually there

: something that you hope for or want but that is not possible or real


mi·​rage | \ mə-ˈräzh \

Kids Definition of mirage

: an illusion sometimes seen at sea, in the desert, or over hot pavement that looks like a pool of water or a mirror in which distant objects are glimpsed


mi·​rage | \ mə-ˈräzh \

Medical Definition of mirage

: an optical effect that is sometimes seen at sea, in the desert, or over a hot pavement, that may have the appearance of a pool of water or a mirror in which distant objects are seen inverted, and that is caused by the bending or reflection of rays of light by a layer of heated air of varying density

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More from Merriam-Webster on mirage

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mirage

Spanish Central: Translation of mirage

Nglish: Translation of mirage for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mirage for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about mirage

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