sim·​u·​la·​crum | \ ˌsim-yə-ˈla-krəm How to pronounce simulacrum (audio) , -ˈlā- \
plural simulacra\ ˌsim-​yə-​ˈla-​krə How to pronounce simulacra (audio) , -​ˈlā-​ \ also simulacrums

Definition of simulacrum

1 : image, representation a reasonable simulacrum of reality— Martin Mayer
2 : an insubstantial form or semblance of something : trace

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Did You Know?

It's not a figment of your imagination; there is a similarity between simulacrum and simulate. Both of those English words derive from simulare, a Latin verb meaning "to copy, represent, or feign." In its earliest English uses, simulacrum named something that provided an image or representation (as, for instance, a portrait, marble statue, or wax figure representing a person). Perhaps because a simulacrum, no matter how skillfully done, is not the real thing, the word gained an extended sense emphasizing the superficiality or insubstantiality of a thing.

Examples of simulacrum in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The simulacrum included two large wall panels, a section of wainscoting and a corner table. Washington Post, "In 1997, Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum was stuck in amber," 11 Jan. 2020 The sets are a creepy simulacrum of the surrounding village, alchemizing local history and lore into horror. New York Times, "The Headless Horseman Industrial Complex," 11 Oct. 2019 The technology is supposed to provide remote workers a simulacrum of those in-office, face-to-face connections. Lauren Goode, Wired, "Lights! Camera! Meeting! Video Conferencing Gets a Makeover," 26 Feb. 2020 Kayla, though, suggests the limitations of the simulacrum. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "The Most Powerful Scene in Bombshell," 23 Dec. 2019 The stage show uses balletic movements to recall those of felines, and over-the-top costumes to achieve suggestion rather than simulacrum. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "Cats Got Your Tongue," 24 Dec. 2019 If the model is faithful enough, this simulation will wake up and behave like a digital simulacrum of the deceased person—speaking and accessing his or her memories, cravings, fears and other traits. Christof Koch, Scientific American, "Will Machines Ever Become Conscious?," 1 Dec. 2019 The holiday train, like the other ghost trains, is a simulacrum of a locomotive, with sounds and thousands of LED lights standing in for the actual train. Steven Martinez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Check out these 5 can't-miss holiday light displays in suburban Milwaukee," 26 Nov. 2019 The next day, as the team continues upstream, the satellite imagery Lozada Toledo relied on for his map proves a woefully inadequate simulacrum of the real twists and turns of the river. Lizzie Wade, Science | AAAS, "In search of the ‘white Jaguar’: Archaeologists travel deep into the jungle to find a lost Maya city," 5 Sep. 2019

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for simulacrum

Middle English, from Latin, from simulare

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Time Traveler for simulacrum

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The first known use of simulacrum was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

14 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Simulacrum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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