phan·​tas·​ma·​go·​ria | \ (ˌ)fan-ˌtaz-mə-ˈgȯr-ē-ə How to pronounce phantasmagoria (audio) \

Definition of phantasmagoria

1 : an exhibition of optical effects and illusions
2a : a constantly shifting complex succession of things seen or imagined
b : a scene that constantly changes
3 : a bizarre or fantastic combination, collection, or assemblage

Other Words from phantasmagoria

phantasmagoric \ (ˌ)fan-​ˌtaz-​mə-​ˈgȯr-​ik How to pronounce phantasmagoria (audio) , -​ˈgär-​ \ or phantasmagorical \ (ˌ)fan-​ˌtaz-​mə-​ˈgȯr-​i-​kəl How to pronounce phantasmagoria (audio) , -​ˈgär-​ \ adjective

Examples of phantasmagoria in a Sentence

He saw a phantasmagoria of shadowy creatures through the fog.
Recent Examples on the Web Alas, Harper also has the misfortune of anchoring the latest cinematic phantasmagoria from Alex Garland, a writer and director who likes to play sinister mind games with characters and audiences alike. Justin Changfilm Critic, Los Angeles Times, 19 May 2022 The stories, ethnographic in perspective but Gogolian in register, gravitate toward inexplicable disappearances, repressed memories, and phantasmagoria. The New Yorker, 28 Mar. 2022 The collection seemed at times like a visual phantasmagoria, dipping in and out of different times periods as the house itself looks back to its heritage and forward to the future. Thomas Adamson, USA TODAY, 6 Oct. 2021 Previously adapted for the big screen in a confounding and ill-fated 1984 David Lynch phantasmagoria, Dune has, over the decades, become one of those rare fanboy and -girl properties that's begged for another go-round. Christian Holub,, 3 Sep. 2021 The pair's many collaborations include the '90s TV show The Kingdom, a bizarre phantasmagoria set at a Danish hospital. Clark Collis,, 29 July 2021 Subbing in a new melody concocted with moody synths and '80s drum beats, the track transforms itself into an avant-pop phantasmagoria that blends perfectly with Mike Hadreas' otherworldly vocals. Stephen Daw, Billboard, 15 Jan. 2021 Saving not just time but effort is key to forward momentum in the industrial phantasmagoria that is, at this moment, blasting circus music into my ears. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, 10 Aug. 2020 Saving not just time but effort is key to forward momentum in the industrial phantasmagoria that is, at this moment, blasting circus music into my ears. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, 10 Aug. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'phantasmagoria.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of phantasmagoria

circa 1802, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for phantasmagoria

borrowed from French phantasmogorie (later fantasmagorie) "theatrical show using magic lanterns in a darkened performance space to suggest supernatural phenomena," from fantasme phantasm + -ogorie, -agorie, of uncertain origin

Note: The French word was used by the magician Paul Phylidor (†1829, of uncertain nationality), apparently first in an announcement of a performance in the Parisian journal Affiches, annonces et avis divers for December 16, 1792. The performance is discussed slightly earlier under the heading "Phantasmogorie" in a letter by one "A.L.M.", in an issue of the Magasin encyclopédique for December 3, 1792 (pp. 17-19). The final element -agorie has been variously explained; perhaps the most plausible suggestion is that it was split off from allégorie allegory. In a handbill for a performance in Vienna in March, 1790, Phylidor uses the presumably plural form phantasmorasi: "… wird der Physikus Phylidor seine Darstellungen der sogenannten Phantasmorasi, oder natürlicher Geister Erscheinungen … einem hohen und unschätzbaren Publikum die Ehre haben zu zeigen" ("… the physician Phylidor will have the honor to exhibit his representations of the so-called Phantasmorasi, or natural spirit phenomena, to a high and inestimable public"). The relation of this earlier word to phantasmogorie is unclear. (The handbill is preserved in the Vienna City Library.)

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The first known use of phantasmagoria was circa 1802

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“Phantasmagoria.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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