phantom

noun
phan·​tom | \ ˈfan-təm How to pronounce phantom (audio) \

Definition of phantom

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : something apparent to sense but with no substantial existence : apparition
b : something elusive or visionary
c : an object of continual dread or abhorrence the phantom of disease and want
2 : something existing in appearance only
3 : a representation of something abstract, ideal, or incorporeal she was a phantom of delight— William Wordsworth

phantom

adjective

Definition of phantom (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of the nature of, suggesting, or being a phantom : illusory
2 : fictitious, dummy phantom voters

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Other Words from phantom

Noun

phantomlike \ ˈfan-​təm-​ˌlīk How to pronounce phantom (audio) \ adverb or adjective

Examples of phantom in a Sentence

Noun The book is about the phantoms that are said to haunt the nation's cemeteries. The crisis is merely a phantom made up by the media. Adjective People claim to have seen a phantom ship floating on the lake. A number of ballots from phantom voters had to be thrown out.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun While Leo's group, like other parts of the establishment GOP, kept a distance from such claims, state lawmakers stepped in quickly with bills aimed at fixing phantom problems and restoring confidence in the system. Nicholas Riccardi And Michael Biesecker, Star Tribune, "'An all-hands moment': GOP rallies behind voting limits," 19 Mar. 2021 Of course, because a poem, itself, is an unreal ‘Eternal,’ Shelley can become ‘Keats,’ transfiguring himself from ‘mourner’ to ‘this frail form / a phantom among men,’ a new ‘Adonais’ himself. Matthew Carey Salyer, Forbes, "The Keats-Shelley House Commemorates The Death Of Keats," 2 Mar. 2021 For days and then weeks, Farshad kept to his routine and eventually the phantom itching in his missing leg began to subside. Elliot Ackerman, Wired, "2034, Part IV: The Spratly Islands Ambush," 16 Feb. 2021 Some, such as phantom smells, are mysterious, while others are debilitating and include migraines, tachycardia, and intense neuropathy in her hands. Joanne Mcneil, Vulture, "Patricia Lockwood’s Infinite Scroll," 12 Feb. 2021 Nearly one in five Americans over 40 reports a changed sense of smell; one in eight has a measurable olfactory dysfunction; one in 15 experiences phantom odors. New York Times, "What Can Covid-19 Teach Us About the Mysteries of Smell?," 28 Jan. 2021 His meter, slung around his neck, rose phantom-like, jabbing his jaw. James Joseph, Popular Mechanics, "Jetography: Photographing Fighter Jets at 40,000 Feet," 31 Dec. 2020 Eric Burrell formed his hands around a phantom handle and swung his arms down again and again, aiming where the goalpost sprouted from the Camp Randall Stadium field. Megan Ryan, Star Tribune, "Badgers defeat Gophers 20-17 in overtime, keeping Paul Bunyan's Axe," 20 Dec. 2020 This phantom First Amendment fiction is its own epidemic. Phillip Molnar, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Is some Americans’ aversion to wearing a mask holding back the economy?," 30 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The state will suffer the economic consequences of Manfred’s decision, and Republicans and the phantom voter suppression in their bill will be blamed by many for those consequences. Isaac Schorr, National Review, "All Boycotts Are Not Created Equal," 6 Apr. 2021 The previous issue was handled by Elsa Charretier (November) and concerned the historical conspiracy known as the phantom time hypothesis. Christian Holub, EW.com, "The Department of Truth comic wants you to think about who benefits from belief in conspiracy theories," 31 Mar. 2021 But much else about these phantom feelings is still a mystery. Kate Baggaley, Popular Science, "This strange condition could explain why your tongue feels weird," 5 Mar. 2021 This is a key mismatch in physics, creating a phantom barrier between phenomena explained by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, for example, versus the close-up spooky trompe l’oeil effects of quantum mechanics. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "The Universe Might Be One Big Neural Network, Study Finds," 5 Mar. 2021 People who live with phantom smells or tastes are often hesitant to talk about them. Kate Baggaley, Popular Science, "This strange condition could explain why your tongue feels weird," 5 Mar. 2021 However, a bigger culprit appears to be that these workers tended to abuse the system and come up with phantom injuries that did not prevent them from performing more strenuous activities elsewhere. Ike Brannon, Forbes, "California’s Pension Woes Are Made Worse By Moving Emergency Services In House," 1 Mar. 2021 Only then will your fear cease to be a phantom menace and instead become concrete—and thus conquerable. Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, "Go Ahead and Fail," 25 Feb. 2021 No group is more eager to chase phantom alerts than amateur astronomers, in hope of eventually catching the real thing, according to Stella Kafka, CEO of the American Association of Variable Star Observers. James Riordon, Scientific American, "New Supernova Alert System Promises Early Access to Spectacles in Space," 22 Feb. 2021

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

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for phantom

Noun

Middle English fantosme, fantome, from Anglo-French fantosme phantasm

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Time Traveler for phantom

Time Traveler

The first known use of phantom was in the 14th century

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Statistics for phantom

Last Updated

30 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Phantom.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phantom. Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for phantom

phantom

noun

English Language Learners Definition of phantom

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the soul of a dead person thought of as living in an unseen world or as appearing to living people
: something that is not real and exists only in a person's mind
: something that is hard to see or achieve

phantom

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of phantom (Entry 2 of 2)

: coming from or associated with the world of ghosts
: not real or true or not based on something real or true
: not real but felt or experienced as something real

phantom

noun
phan·​tom | \ ˈfan-təm How to pronounce phantom (audio) \

Kids Definition of phantom

: an image or figure that can be sensed (as with the eyes or ears) but that is not real

phantom

noun
phan·​tom
variants: also fantom \ ˈfant-​əm How to pronounce phantom (audio) \

Medical Definition of phantom

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a model of the body or one of its parts
2 : a body of material resembling a body or bodily part in mass, composition, and dimensions and used to measure absorption of radiations

phantom

adjective
variants: also fantom

Medical Definition of phantom (Entry 2 of 2)

: not caused by an anatomical lesion phantom respiratory disorders

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Comments on phantom

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