imag·​ine i-ˈma-jən How to pronounce imagine (audio)
imagined; imagining i-ˈma-jə-niŋ How to pronounce imagine (audio)

transitive verb

: to form a mental image of (something not present)
imagine accidents at every turn
: suppose, guess
I imagine it will rain
: to form a notion of without sufficient basis : fancy
imagines himself to be a charming conversationalist
archaic : plan, scheme
Choose the Right Synonym for imagine

think, conceive, imagine, fancy, realize, envisage, envision mean to form an idea of.

think implies the entrance of an idea into one's mind with or without deliberate consideration or reflection.

I just thought of a good joke

conceive suggests the forming and bringing forth and usually developing of an idea, plan, or design.

conceived of a new marketing approach

imagine stresses a visualization.

imagine you're at the beach

fancy suggests an imagining often unrestrained by reality but spurred by desires.

fancied himself a super athlete

realize stresses a grasping of the significance of what is conceived or imagined.

realized the enormity of the task ahead

envisage and envision imply a conceiving or imagining that is especially clear or detailed.

envisaged a totally computerized operation
envisioned a cure for the disease

Example Sentences

a writer who has imagined an entire world of amazing creatures He asked us to imagine a world without poverty or war. It's hard for me to imagine having children. He was imagining all sorts of terrible things happening. “What was that sound? I think there's someone in the house!” “Oh, you're just imagining things.” I imagine it will snow at some point today. It's difficult to imagine that these changes will really be effective. The company will do better next year, I imagine. It was worse than they had imagined. See More
Recent Examples on the Web These remarkable four months of competition have speedskating luminaries predicting future success for Stolz that seems almost impossible to imagine. Kevin Draper, New York Times, 2 Mar. 2023 The men are instructed to imagine a bright circle of light encasing them, projected from the crown of their heads. Los Angeles Times, 1 Mar. 2023 The battle ends with the nefarious Moff Gideon whisking Grogu away from his psuedo-dad, forced to imagine the dangers awaiting Grogu as Gideon determines the green guy’s a suitable blood donor. Lauren Puckett-pope, ELLE, 28 Feb. 2023 Quite what a viewer who doesn’t go in knowing that Schanelec is interpreting Sophocles would make of this film is impossible to imagine. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 21 Feb. 2023 Geoffrey also enlisted industrial-design star Marc Newson, who had created new bottle designs at Dom Pérignon, to imagine the packaging for Iwa. Baroness Sheri De Borchgrave, Robb Report, 19 Feb. 2023 The year 1994 was a good time to imagine the concept of wealth filtered through the eyes of children. Monica Hesse, Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2023 The scenarios are not difficult to imagine; a faked video showing a politician in a compromising position; faked audio of a world leader discussing sensitive information. Donie O'sullivan, CNN, 16 Feb. 2023 In one study, 128 participants were asked to imagine they’d been appointed to a small work committee charged with allocating bonus funds to deserving employees. Orianna Rosa Royle, Fortune, 15 Feb. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'imagine.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English ymagynen, borrowed from Anglo-French ymaginer, borrowed from Latin imāginārī, verbal derivative of imāgin-, imāgō "representation, semblance, image entry 1"

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of imagine was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near imagine

Cite this Entry

“Imagine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


imag·​ine im-ˈaj-ən How to pronounce imagine (audio)
imagined; imagining -ˈaj-(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce imagine (audio)
: to form a mental picture of : use the imagination
: think sense 2, suppose
I imagine it will snow

Medical Definition


imag·​ine im-ˈaj-ən How to pronounce imagine (audio)
imagined; imagining -ˈaj-(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce imagine (audio)

transitive verb

: to form a mental image of (something not present)

More from Merriam-Webster on imagine

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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