sim·​u·​la·​crum | \ ˌsim-yə-ˈla-krəm How to pronounce simulacrum (audio) , -ˈlā- \
plural simulacra\ ˌsim-​yə-​ˈla-​krə How to pronounce simulacrum (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 Jia knows that Kong is restive in his new home, and Kong proves it by pulling a tree from the ground and hurling it, spear-like, at the sky, which is not a sky at all but a simulacrum; the tree shatters it, revealing a high-tech framework beneath. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“Godzilla vs. Kong,” Reviewed: A Monster Mush of Two Venerable Franchises," 2 Apr. 2021 The paranoid feeling of being trapped inside some vindictive simulacrum is symptomatic of lives spent online. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: ‘Reality and Other Stories’ Review," 26 Mar. 2021 Even the man who created the monster isn’t immune to its simulacrum of human connection. Alison Willmore, Vulture, "The 101 Greatest Endings in Movies History," 22 Feb. 2021 Motion that takes one nowhere, energy expended on nothing, and activity divorced from its purpose create a semblance of biographies lived by a simulacrum of people. Gary Saul Morson, The New York Review of Books, "An Incandescent Inanity," 3 Nov. 2020 The goal was to put a simulacrum of that on the page. Shawna Seed, Dallas News, "Major prize, first novel: Houston author Bryan Washington is on a roll," 15 Oct. 2020 But ever since Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford wrote a seminal paper about the simulation argument in 2003, philosophers, physicists, technologists and, yes, comedians have been grappling with the idea of our reality being a simulacrum. Anil Ananthaswamy, Scientific American, "Do We Live in a Simulation? Chances Are about 50–50," 13 Oct. 2020 And so as millions of people flocked to video chat for that simulacrum of normalcy, Google promoted Meet in its already ubiquitous products like Gmail and Calendar. Brian Barrett, Wired, "How Google Meet Weathered the Work-From-Home Explosion," 11 Aug. 2020 The color palette shifted from the beige and olive green of roadside scrub to charcoal trunks and scorched leaves in shades of orange, an uncanny simulacrum of autumn. David Maurice Smith, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Great Koala Rescue Operation," 10 June 2020

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for simulacrum

Last Updated

5 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Simulacrum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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