optical illusion

noun
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

To better understand this optical illusion, TIME turned to neurobiologist Bevil Conway. Raisa Bruner, Time, "Here's Why That Close-Up Photo Had Everyone Seeing an Impressionistic Landscape," 11 July 2019 Today, however, Ms. Maurer is best known for her stunning optical illusions. Emily Ferguson, WSJ, "Motion and Illusion," 11 July 2019 Take his camp-themed look for the 2019 Met Gala, a truly avant-garde optical illusion involving a few extra pairs of eyes and a Michael Meyers mask. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Ezra Miller Wants to Help You Find the Magic of Makeup," 9 July 2019 Don’t dwell on how this trade looks; in a vacuum, a laundry list of draft picks can work as an optical illusion. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "Trade Grades: An Extension of the AD Deal, Pelicans-Hawks Swap Shapes Two Futures," 21 June 2019 Here’s another optical illusion, which is two recipes in one. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, "Got a fork and a freezer? Here are 6 recipes for granita, summer’s simplest refresher.," 8 June 2019 His makeup artist Choi is known for creating unique optical illusions with makeup. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Ezra Miller's Incredible Met Gala Makeup Look is Giving Us a Headache," 7 May 2019 The Fantastic Beasts star turned his attire into an optical illusion, initially hiding his face behind a mask. Draping himself in a white cape, Ezra kept his choice of outfit a secret. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Ezra Miller Wore Multiple Sets of Eyes for His Met Gala 2019 Makeup," 7 May 2019 An extra set of eyes (or two) á la Ezra Miller's fantastical beauty optical illusion. Gabe Bergado, Teen Vogue, "What Met Gala 2019 Outfit You Are According to Your Zodiac Sign," 7 May 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of optical illusion

1763, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about optical illusion

Statistics for optical illusion

Last Updated

21 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for optical illusion

The first known use of optical illusion was in 1763

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for optical illusion

optical illusion

noun

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

noun

Kids Definition of optical illusion

: something that looks different from what it actually is

optical illusion

noun

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

Comments on optical illusion

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to complain fretfully

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
True or False

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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