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

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 And for those of you who like to give yourself optical illusions, here’s how to make a face from arches. Cecil Beaton, Vogue, "Welcome In 2019 With a DIY Art Project, Courtesy of Vogue and Salvador Dalí," 31 Dec. 2018 Of course, the other thing about optical illusions is that there’s often a logical conclusion. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Photo of Gigi Hadid's "Missing" Belly Button Is a Total Optical Illusion," 13 Jan. 2019 So how did Noah manage this apparent optical illusion? De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Lana Condor on Auditioning for "To All the Boys I've Loved Before" With Noah Centineo," 18 Nov. 2018 Jenner attended the People's Choice Awards on Sunday night with an unexpected optical illusion gracing her eyelids. Zoë Weiner, Allure, "Kendall Jenner Wore Green Negative-Space Eye Makeup to the People’s Choice Awards," 13 Nov. 2018 All interlock to create an optical illusion that makes my brain hurt (in a good way). 8. Devon Abelman, Allure, "13 Unexpected Ways to Wear Winged Eyeliner That Are Taking Over Instagram," 14 Sep. 2018 The dress, which is from Jean Paul Gaultier's Spring 1996 collection, transformed Kim into a walking optical illusion—accentuating her famous curves in the process. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kim Kardashian’s People’s Choice Awards Dress May Hypnotize You," 12 Nov. 2018 But a new hotel in Guilin, China, is bringing the artist’s vision to life with a pair of guesthouses dedicated to optical illusions. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "These hotel rooms look like trippy M.C. Escher drawings," 3 Dec. 2018

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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Statistics for optical illusion

Last Updated

12 May 2019

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Time Traveler for optical illusion

The first known use of optical illusion was in 1763

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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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