phantom limb


Definition of phantom limb

: an often painful sensation of the presence of a limb that has been amputated

called also phantom pain

Examples of phantom limb in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The old life is reached for, again and again, like a phantom limb. Virginia Heffernan, Wired, "The Literature of Plagues Gives Us Words to Live By," 21 Apr. 2020 Pain can be experienced and relieved in phantom limbs. Discomfort and swelling increase when people believe a painful hand or knee is larger. Austin Frakt, New York Times, "If ‘Pain Is an Opinion,’ There Are Ways to Change Your Mind," 2 Dec. 2019 Much effort has been spent to understand phantom limb syndrome, but this study is among the first to shed light on a converse phenomenon. Tom Roseberry, Scientific American, "Studying the Superhuman," 4 Sep. 2019 Their work fits into a corpus of research on illusory body ownership, which has challenged understandings of perception and contributed to therapies like treating pain for amputees who experience phantom limb. Steph Yin, New York Times, "In Virtual Reality, How Much Body Do You Need?," 17 May 2018

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

1871, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about phantom limb

Time Traveler for phantom limb

Time Traveler

The first known use of phantom limb was in 1871

See more words from the same year

Statistics for phantom limb

Cite this Entry

“Phantom limb.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for phantom limb

phantom limb


Medical Definition of phantom limb

: an often painful sensation of the presence of a limb that has been amputated

called also phantom pain, phantom sensations

More from Merriam-Webster on phantom limb Encyclopedia article about phantom limb

Comments on phantom limb

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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