optical illusion


plural optical illusions
: 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 Beyond its mental effects, he was immediately drawn to the aesthetics — swirling colors, optical illusions and surreal depictions of cognition — associated with it. Renée Reizman, Los Angeles Times, 8 May 2024 Chambers met Soule, a 49-year-old artist known for drawing flowing grids as optical illusions, in 2009 in San Francisco. Renée Reizman, Los Angeles Times, 8 May 2024 How the optical illusion—modeled here by Lulu Tenney—was achieved: On top of bleached brows and sheer pastel pigments, McGrath misted seven or eight coats of a concoction composed of various peel-off masks and water through an airbrush machine. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, 16 Apr. 2024 Sun halos are optical illusions created when ice crystals form in the correct shape in the upper atmosphere, usually accompanying thin, wispy cirrus clouds. Chloe Rose Stuart-Ulin, New York Times, 15 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for optical illusion 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'optical illusion.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1763, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of optical illusion was in 1763

Dictionary Entries Near optical illusion

Cite this Entry

“Optical illusion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/optical%20illusion. Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

optical illusion


Medical Definition

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

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