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 phantomlike (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

Same for all the young men on the internet who, after a few hours on the white supremacist website Stormfront, are experts on their phantom Viking heritage. C. Brandon Ogbunu, WIRED, "How White Nationalists Have Co-Opted Fan Fiction," 1 Aug. 2019 Pizzagate sent a man with a gun on a mission to hunt phantoms in a restaurant. Los Angeles Times, "In the Trump era, a comedy podcast about conspiracy theories finds a home in the mainstream," 19 July 2019 Although the picture hails from a long tradition of British social realism, with faint echoes of Terence Davies, Ken Loach and Andrea Arnold, its odd, time-shuffling structure seems to arise from the phantoms of Billingham’s memory. Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Ray & Liz’ is a bleak, beautiful memoir of an unhappy English childhood," 18 July 2019 In addition, their cavernous house appears to be haunted by strange noises and prowling phantoms, about which Randall keeps us guessing for the first hour. Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter, "'I See You': Film Review | Edinburgh 2019," 8 July 2019 Notably scored the 'phantom' goal against Chelsea, sending the Reds through to that fateful game in Istanbul in 2005. SI.com, "Rafa Benitez: The Likeable Spaniard's All-Time Best XI," 1 July 2019 Then -- then Judge Kavanaugh is fighting a phantom. Fox News, "Kennedy: Kavanaugh is firm that allegation didn't happen," 18 Sep. 2018 Lately, Mill has been something of a phantom himself. Dan Deluca, Philly.com, "Why Meek Mill and the Sixers are made for each other," 27 Apr. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Still, the incident sparked a massive response from law enforcement officials, who spent days searching for a phantom gunman. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, "D.A. reviewing investigation of deputy accused of faking sniper shooting," 30 Aug. 2019 Lidar point clouds can have phantom points due to reflections, for example. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Elon Musk: “Anyone relying on lidar is doomed.” Experts: Maybe not," 6 Aug. 2019 In April congress passed reforms to end the practice of paying phantom teachers and health-care workers and to prevent union bosses and politicians from giving jobs to their cronies. The Economist, "The humbling of Honduras’s president, Juan Orlando Hernández," 2 Aug. 2019 The film stars Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, and Waititi himself as the phantom Fuhrer. Marcus Jones, EW.com, "Taika Waititi's Jojo Rabbit to open Fantastic Fest 2019," 30 July 2019 In late 2016, dozens of US diplomats working in Cuba and China began reporting odd mental symptoms: persistent headaches, vertigo, blurred vision, hearing phantom sounds. Benedict Carey, BostonGlobe.com, "Were US diplomats attacked in Cuba? Brain study deepens mystery," 23 July 2019 Before that, Mississippi State fans loudly protested a phantom block-in-the-back call against the Bulldogs in a game at Alabama. Ross Dellenger, SI.com, "The SEC Grapples With Officiating in the Age of Outrage," 5 June 2019 Machado immediately threw his helmet to the ground but has denied making contact while yelling in close vicinity to Welke, the same umpire who called out Machado in April on what the Padres deemed phantom interference on a pop-up in foul territory. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Umpires not happy with Machado ban; Hosmer among players calling for ump accountability," 18 June 2019 Revol told them of her lonely descent, of her night in a crevasse at 6,100 meters, of her hallucinations, of having removed her boots for a phantom woman who had requested them, and of Mackiewicz's frightening state. National Geographic, "Meet the super climbers who came to the rescue on the 'Killer Mountain'," 12 June 2019

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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Statistics for phantom

Last Updated

7 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for phantom

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

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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 fantom (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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More from Merriam-Webster on phantom

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with phantom

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for phantom

Spanish Central: Translation of phantom

Nglish: Translation of phantom for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of phantom for Arabic Speakers

Comments on phantom

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