Definition of pareidolia
: the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern <The scientific explanation for some people is pareidolia, or the human ability to see shapes or make pictures out of randomness. Think of the Rorschach inkblot test. — Pamela Ferdinand> — compare apophenia
Medical Definition of pareidolia
: the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful, image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern <The human brain is optimized to recognize faces, which could also explain why we are so good at picking out meaningful shapes in random patterns. This phenomenon, pareidolia, could be responsible for a host of otherwise unexplained sightings, such as the face of the Virgin Mary on a toasted cheese sandwich.—New Scientist, 24 Dec. 2011>—compare apophenia
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