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 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 Nearly half a century’s worth of books, TV shows, comics, films, songs and festivals have been devoted to completing the puzzle or have played off the myth of Cooper, a phantom who’s enthralled since Nixon was in office. Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: 49 years ago, D.B. Cooper became an ideal hero for cynical times. He still is," 25 Nov. 2020 But resurrecting the phantom of a lost hardware hits a little differently. Cecilia D'anastasio, Wired, "How Video Game Historians Resurrected Sega's Lost VR Headset," 20 Nov. 2020 Reed was just running with Everett on the play and the back judge made a phantom call. oregonlive, "Seattle Seahawks’ offense disappears during loss to the Los Angeles Rams: 10 studs and duds," 15 Nov. 2020 The sources, from inside and outside the office, say Harper was often like a phantom, frequently absent and rarely engaged in the work. Jessica Williams, NOLA.com, "A look at New Orleans Inspector General Derry Harper's tenure: Challenges, productivity issues," 30 Oct. 2020 Authorities said some defendants were paid in lawsuit settlements for phantom or exaggerated injuries. Mike Perlstein, NOLA.com, "New Orleans staged accident case yields three more guilty pleas," 23 Oct. 2020 Another limitation was that the authors did not report whether the subjects experienced a reduction in tinnitus—actual changes in the perceptions of the phantom sounds. Diana Kwon, Scientific American, "New Tinnitus Treatment Alleviates Annoying Ringing in the Ears," 7 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Many of today’s radicalized voters come from families who sacrificed when the country went to war over phantom weapons of mass destruction and watched the responsible policy makers get off scot-free. Rahm Emanuel, WSJ, "Biden’s Win for the American System," 28 Dec. 2020 Other local legends hold that the desert is haunted by screaming ghosts or stalked by a phantom wolf. New York Times, "A New Theory About the Monolith: We’re the Aliens," 28 Dec. 2020 But these physicists are trying to help ensure safe passage, using phantom particles to chart the course. Sarah Scoles, Wired, "Neutrino Detectors Could Be Used to Spot Nuclear Rogues," 6 Oct. 2020 The hessian invaders were the vanguard of a phantom army, the most ambitious conjuring trick in military history. The Economist, "Military deception Democracies need to re-learn the art of deception," 16 Dec. 2020 So the happy news is in limbo, a phantom zone in which an entire industry, along with millions of its workers, languishes. Washington Post, "Best theater of 2020: Sondheim’s birthday, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ Mary Neely, ‘The Amen Corner’ and more," 9 Dec. 2020 The selling of such phantom shares was possible because of a three-day lag that was built into the process of settling trades. Sheelah Kolhatkar, The New Yorker, "A Tycoon’s Deep-State Conspiracy Dive," 7 Dec. 2020 But a phantom lady in red was probably involved in some kind of questionable activity. Rosalind Jana, refinery29.com, "From Rebecca To Moulin Rouge: The Femme Fatale Power Of A Red Dress," 22 Oct. 2020 Soon after LaLaurie disappeared from New Orleans, people claimed to hear the phantom screams of her victims spilling from the house in the dead of night. Gulnaz Khan, National Geographic, "These are the most haunted places in the United States," 31 Oct. 2020

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 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Phantom.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phantom. Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for phantom

phantom

noun
How to pronounce phantom (audio)

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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