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
c : a figment of the imagination
2 : a mental representation of a real object

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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 That the nocturnal ritual fantasy is no fantasy, that every phantasm is a sign. Talia Lavin, The New Republic, "QAnon, Blood Libel, and the Satanic Panic," 29 Sep. 2020 Nor did this phantasm express itself solely in writing. Ryan Ruby, The New York Review of Books, "Pierre Klossowski, Brilliant Brother of Balthus," 8 Aug. 2020 His drawing shows an electric-blue phantasm on the wing, more like an angel or a pegasus than any earthly being. J. B. Mackinnon, The Atlantic, "The Rich Meals That Keep Wild Animals on the Menu," 19 Mar. 2020 These phantasms could influence familiar particles in several ways, according to Johns Hopkins University theorist and MAGIS collaborator Surjeet Rajendran. Charlie Wood, Scientific American, "New Instrument Will Stretch Atoms into Giant Waves," 18 Jan. 2020 Gottlieb’s story offers a fleeting glimpse into a world that is usually no more than a phantasm or a hideous dream., "The CIA chemist who sought the secrets of mind control - The Boston Globe," 14 Sep. 2019 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

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for phantasm

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

3 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Phantasm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for phantasm


How to pronounce phantasm (audio)

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

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for phantasm

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