phan·​tasm | \ ˈfan-ˌta-zəm How to pronounce phantasm (audio) \
variants: or less commonly

Definition of phantasm

1 : a product of fantasy: such as
a : delusive appearance : illusion
b : ghost, specter
c : a figment of the imagination
2 : a mental representation of a real object

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from phantasm

phantasmal \ fan-​ˈtaz-​məl How to pronounce phantasmal (audio) \ adjective
phantasmic \ fan-​ˈtaz-​mik How to pronounce phantasmic (audio) \ adjective

Did You Know?

The root "phan" comes from Greek verbs that mean "to appear or seem" or "to present to the mind." Does "phan" bring to your mind any other English words, in addition to "phantasm"? Indeed, this root appears in several English words that have to do with the way things seem or appear rather than the way they really are. Phantasmagoria and diaphanous are examples. Also from this root are words such as "fanciful" and "fantasy," in which the imagination plays an important part.

Examples of phantasm in a Sentence

frightened by the phantasms of his own making believed that she'd seen the phantasm of her father on the anniversary of his death

Recent Examples on the Web

The rest are freaks and phantasms, the lone exception being Callie Hernandez as the millionaire’s daughter, who manages to seem wise and lost and sad before vanishing from the action. Ty Burr,, "‘Under the Silver Lake’ is a noir where the sun shines," 3 July 2019 That is, if temple history buffs can raise $500,000 to bring this different kind of phantasm completely into the light. Maria L. La Ganga, idahostatesman, "What’s behind ’60s-era paneling at El Korah Shrine? A ballroom’s worth of ’20s art.," 12 July 2018 But when the team practices in Alexandria, that bullet hole will serve as a dark reminder of the phantasms which long haunt Eugene Simpson Stadium. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "GOP unfinished business on the ball diamond," 26 Apr. 2018 Entire families of the hairy monsters apparently traveled the base’s buildings and corridors, appearing and disappearing at will, and to the bewilderment of base police sent chasing after the phantasms. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "The Known Unknown: Tales of the Yucca Man," 25 Apr. 2018 As Susan Owens highlights in her new cultural history of ghosts, phantasms and spirits have assumed many guises and taken up numerous causes over the millennia. The Economist, "The evolution of the ghost," 28 Oct. 2017 There’s about a second of silence as if everyone were holding their breath — then, bam, the room explodes in a phantasm of whirling red lights and soaring music and everyone crying out all at once and lifting their hands in the air. Heather Chaplin, Cosmopolitan, "The Steamy Hookup That Saved Me After My Marriage Died," 7 Sep. 2017 Over the years many have reported glimpsing ghosts and phantasms amid the shadows of this labyrinthine mansion, with its 10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, 47 fireplaces, 40 staircases, 13 bathrooms and nine kitchens. Karen D'souza, The Mercury News, "Helen Mirren, filming in San Jose, marvels at ‘inspiring’ Winchester Mystery House," 5 May 2017 As for Patty Hearst herself, Toobin treats her as a person, not a tabloid phantasm. Dana Spiotta, New York Times, "The Run of Her Life: Jeffrey Toobin on the Odyssey of Patty Hearst," 10 Aug. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'phantasm.' 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 phantasm

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for phantasm

Middle English fantasme, from Anglo-French fantosme, fantasme, from Latin phantasma, from Greek, from phantazein to present to the mind — more at fancy

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about phantasm

Listen to Our Podcast about phantasm

Statistics for phantasm

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for phantasm

The first known use of phantasm was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for phantasm



English Language Learners Definition of phantasm

literary : something that exists only in a person's mind


phan·​tasm | \ ˈfan-ˌtaz-əm How to pronounce phantasm (audio) \

Medical Definition of phantasm

1 : a figment of the imagination or disordered mind
2 : an apparition of a living or dead person

More from Merriam-Webster on phantasm

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with phantasm

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for phantasm

Comments on phantasm

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


to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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