Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective illusory contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of illusory are apparent, ostensible, and seeming. While all these words mean "not actually being what appearance indicates," illusory implies a false impression based on deceptive resemblance or faulty observation, or influenced by emotions that prevent a clear view.

an illusory sense of security

When is apparent a more appropriate choice than illusory?

The synonyms apparent and illusory are sometimes interchangeable, but apparent suggests appearance to unaided senses that may or may not be borne out by more rigorous examination or greater knowledge.

the apparent cause of the accident

When is it sensible to use ostensible instead of illusory?

The meanings of ostensible and illusory largely overlap; however, ostensible suggests a discrepancy between an openly declared or naturally implied aim or reason and the true one.

the ostensible reason for their visit

When could seeming be used to replace illusory?

While the synonyms seeming and illusory are close in meaning, seeming implies a character in the thing observed that gives it the appearance, sometimes through intent, of something else.

the seeming simplicity of the story

Thesaurus Entries Near illusory

Cite this Entry

“Illusory.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Feb. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on illusory

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?