phantom

noun
phan·tom | \ ˈfan-təm \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from phantom

Noun

phantomlike \ˈfan-təm-ˌlīk \ 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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Smelling disorders, including phantom smells and a lack of smell, can be a sign of serious health problems. NBC News, "Phantom smells may be a sign of trouble," 10 July 2018 In Thursday’s 3-2 loss, home plate umpire Mark Ripperger drew the ire of Green with a phantom hit by pitch ruling. Kevin Acee, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Padres rally to beat Braves after Andy Green is ejected," 15 June 2018 She was tormented by phantom-limb pain, and Melzack was struck by her linguistic resourcefulness in describing it. Nicola Twilley, The New Yorker, "The Neuroscience of Pain," 9 May 2016 The Chinese Communist Party — ably aided by its jingoistic state media — has long exploited the phantom of meddlesome Western nations determined to keep China down. Time, "China’s Xi Jinping Offers Trade Concessions, but They May Not Be Enough to Satisfy Trump," 10 Apr. 2018 Roseanne depicts politics as a kind of phantom that descends from outside for white people to politely argue over, something that has little actual impact on the lives of these characters. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "The Roseanne revival, and the argument over how TV depicts Trump supporters, explained," 30 Mar. 2018 But seeing a woman play Mueller, someone who's menacing Trump and is seen by people inside the White House as either an omnipresent phantom or an axe always about to fall, probably makes his blood boil in a whole new way. Luke Darby, GQ, "Kate McKinnon's Robert Mueller Proves Kate McKinnon Can Make Anyone Funny," 21 Jan. 2018 There is no such thing as a sanctuary city as a political phantom. Fox News, "Ingraham: Our collegiate indoctrination factory," 7 Mar. 2018 But for others — those who experience oral and olfactory phantoms — there aren't. Erin Blakemore, Washington Post, "The strange condition that makes you feel as if you burned your mouth," 7 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Then, Los Cafeteros equalized on Juan Quintero’s free kick (hit under the wall!) that came after a phantom Japanese foul. Grant Wahl, SI.com, "Russia Continues to Surprise, While Japan, Senegal Earn Landmark World Cup Wins," 19 June 2018 Mexico’s phantom drug Much more fentanyl is being seized along the Mexican pipeline. Kristina Davis, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Fentanyl has taken over America's drug market. Where is it coming from?," 17 June 2018 Two beloved phantom stores survive in Boyle Heights and Bell Gardens. Chris Nichols, Los Angeles Magazine, "These Vintage L.A. Chicken Joints Have Yet to Kick the Bucket," 26 June 2018 The chief sponsor of the League of Nations busied himself in his youth devising constitutions for a phantom yacht club and his college baseball team. Richard Norton Smith, WSJ, "‘The Moralist’ Review: The High and Rocky Road," 19 Apr. 2018 However, the resentful Ike remains a constant phantom menace, always lurking in the shadows. Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Tina': Theater Review," 17 Apr. 2018 Now the piece about the famous sleuth’s pursuit of a phantom pooch returns to town in a new production at Scripps Ranch Theatre. James Hebert, sandiegouniontribune.com, "In the wings: Scripps Ranch Theatre on the trail of 'Baskerville'," 16 Mar. 2018 Peña Nieto’s image was also tarnished by a scandal involving the first lady’s unregistered purchase of a $6 million marble home, and the channeling of millions of dollars through public universities to phantom companies. Maya Averbuch, The New Republic, "What Turns an Outsider Into a President?," 23 May 2018 Eleven days earlier, Fraschilla criticized a phantom call that went against Texas Tech at Allen Fieldhouse and Fraschilla’s cell phone lit up with text messages from coaches around the league. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "Fran Fraschilla grew up wanting to do nothing but coach. Now, he thinks he found something even better," 20 Jan. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about phantom

Phrases Related to phantom

phantom pregnancy

Statistics for phantom

Last Updated

7 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for phantom

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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 \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on phantom

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

WORD OF THE DAY

the setting in which something occurs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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