optical illusion

plural optical illusions

Definition of optical illusion

: a misleading image presented to the vision Zebras look like optical illusions to me. Which are they—black with white stripes or white with black stripes?— Al Robinson The sun, moon, and planets circle above the terrestrial plane in the region of the equator. Their apparent rising and setting is an optical illusion caused by atmospheric refraction …Ranger Rick

Examples of optical illusion in a Sentence

The closer building looks larger than the farther one, but it's just an optical illusion. The two buildings are actually the same size.
Recent Examples on the Web Using state-of-the art tools, including a super-high-speed camera that can record over 55,000 frames a second, the researchers were able to see that the side-to-side movement was actually an optical illusion. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, "Human sperm roll like 'playful otters' as they swim, study finds, contradicting centuries-old beliefs," 31 July 2020 But according to a new paper in Science Advances, this is actually an optical illusion—the result of viewing the creatures from above with 2D microscopes. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Human sperm swim more like otters than eels, study finds," 31 July 2020 The optical illusion mural is part of an unlikely partnership between Jiffy Lube and local artists that has put over a dozen murals on the walls of Jiffy Lubes in Indiana since 2016. Christine Fernando, The Indianapolis Star, "A lion, a tiger and a bear hold up a roof in this optical illusion in a Fishers mural," 11 July 2020 The video reminded him of the famous Duck-Rabbit optical illusion, so Quintana decided to post the clip to see if the internet had trouble telling if this creature was bird or bunny. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, "Bird or Bunny? Watch the Animal Video that Is Dividing the Internet," 22 Aug. 2019 This creates an optical illusion making a slight downhill look like an uphill slope. Kelly Kazek | Kkazek@al.com, al, "Are gravity hills real? How to check out 5 in Alabama," 4 May 2020 For this tour, each show kicks off with the spinning of a wheel marked with about a dozen science experiments, from building a hovercraft to creating an optical illusion. Shannon Sutlief, Dallas News, "14 fun things to do the week of Jan. 31-Feb. 6 in Dallas-Fort Worth," 31 Jan. 2020 An avid magic and optical illusions fan, an undeniable sense of mystery penetrates many of his still and moving picture works. Nickole Kerner Bobley, Houston Chronicle, "Artfeel: Local artist examines nature, humanity in “Tree Man” work," 15 Apr. 2020 At Silver Lyan, a subterranean bar and first U.S. venture from international cocktail whiz Ryan Chetiyawardana (aka Mr. Lyan), there are optical illusions at every turn. Sarah Firshein, Condé Nast Traveler, "Riggs Washington DC: First In," 7 Feb. 2020

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

1763, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for optical illusion

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The first known use of optical illusion was in 1763

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Statistics for optical illusion

Last Updated

9 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Optical illusion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/optical%20illusion. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for optical illusion

optical illusion


English Language Learners Definition of optical illusion

: something that looks different from what it is : something that you seem to see but that is not really there

optical illusion


Kids Definition of optical illusion

: something that looks different from what it actually is

optical illusion


Medical Definition of optical illusion

: visual perception of a real object in such a way as to misinterpret its actual nature

More from Merriam-Webster on optical illusion

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for optical illusion

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about optical illusion

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