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 Because the roofline changed, the house looks something like an optical illusion, with a quadrant of air that invites imagination. Rohan Preston, Star Tribune, 2 July 2021 Among the seven pieces in this collection, this optical illusion and geometric device is best defined with the Meride necklace. Anthony Demarco, Forbes, 27 June 2021 Few hairstyles are as polarizing as the business-up-front, party-in-back optical illusion featuring a straight-on short cut that is quickly betrayed by cascading longer lengths down the neck. Jancee Dunn, Vogue, 2 June 2021 Back then, her only knitting skill was basic hand crochet, a far cry from the highly technical futuristic knits and optical illusion patterns that have become her signature. New York Times, 6 May 2021 Breakfast Nook Suspended in front of a Thomas Jorion photograph of a ruinous stairwell, this 19th-century French wrought-iron garden lantern creates an optical illusion. Robert Rufino, House Beautiful, 8 Apr. 2021 Canadian free divers, Ryan Foey and Andrew Ryzebol, created this optical illusion by swimming underneath Lake Huron’s ice and playing hockey upside down. Sportskind, USA TODAY, 6 Apr. 2021 While long dubbed a mystery, even by the Smithsonian, the vanishing water is only an optical illusion, as was proved by careful stream-gauging by the DNR in 2016. Greg Brick, Star Tribune, 2 Apr. 2021 In 1980, Thomas obtained a patent for the illusion transmitter, which uses a concave mirror on the transmitting and receiving ends to produce optical illusion images. Renee Morad, NBC News, 25 Mar. 2021

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of optical illusion was in 1763

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Dictionary Entries Near optical illusion

optical haze

optical illusion

optical inversion

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Statistics for optical illusion

Last Updated

17 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Optical illusion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/optical%20illusion. Accessed 2 Aug. 2021.

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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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