phenomenon

noun
phe·​nom·​e·​non | \ fi-ˈnä-mə-ˌnän How to pronounce phenomenon (audio) , -nən \
plural phenomena\ fi-​ˈnä-​mə-​nə How to pronounce phenomenon (audio) , -​ˌnä \ or phenomenons

Definition of phenomenon

1 plural phenomena : an observable fact or event
2 plural phenomena
a : an object or aspect known through the senses rather than by thought or intuition
b : a temporal or spatiotemporal object of sensory experience as distinguished from a noumenon
c : a fact or event of scientific interest susceptible to scientific description and explanation
3a : a rare or significant fact or event
b plural phenomenons : an exceptional, unusual, or abnormal person, thing, or occurrence

Can phenomena be used as a singular?: Usage Guide

Phenomena has been in occasional use as a singular since the early 18th century, as has the plural phenomenas. Our evidence shows that singular phenomena is primarily a speech form used by poets, critics, and professors, among others, but one that sometimes turns up in edited prose. Although it seemed like a fad a few years ago, Twitter has evolved into a phenomena with more than 200 million users … — Myron P. Medcalf It is etymologically no more irregular than stamina and agenda, but it has nowhere near the frequency of use that they have, and while they are standard, phenomena is still rather borderline.

Examples of phenomenon in a Sentence

For example, we talk more loudly in cars, because of a phenomenon known as the Lombard effect—the speaker involuntarily raises his voice to compensate for background noise. — John Seabrook, New Yorker, 23 June 2008 This follow-the-winemaker phenomenon is a unique wrinkle in our wine culture. — James Laube, Wine Spectator, 15 May 2008 Contrary to the notion that war is a continuation of policy by other means …  , both Keegan and Mueller find that war is a cultural product rather than a phenomenon or law of nature and therefore subject, like other modes of human expression (the wearing of togas or powdered wigs, the keeping of slaves, the art of cave painting), to the falling out of fashion. — Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, September 2007 The days and nights of the Irish pub, smoky and dark and intimate, are giving way to another phenomenon: the superpub. These are immense places, loud with music; part honkytonk, part dance hall, some servicing as many as a thousand drinkers on several floors. — Pete Hamill, Gourmet, April 2007 They were ephemera and phenomena on the face of a contemporary scene. That is, there was really no place for them in the culture, in the economy, yet they were there, at that time, and everyone knew that they wouldn't last very long, which they didn't. — William Faulkner, letter, 7 Mar. 1957 natural phenomena like lightning and earthquakes the greatest literary phenomenon of the decade The movie eventually became a cultural phenomenon. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Flooding may also be tempered by the impact of a complex weather phenomenon known as La Niña, which occurs when strong winds blow warm water away from South America and across the Pacific Ocean. David Abel, BostonGlobe.com, 3 Aug. 2022 That’s a peculiar phenomenon known as a ship track. Wired, 26 July 2022 Forecasters say onshore winds are pushing the warmer, upper layer of ocean away from the coast, allowing cooler water to rise, a phenomenon known as upwelling. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 July 2022 The staffing crisis is part of a national trend: As more workers level up in the job market or set up their own businesses, and as others opt out for lack of child care, a phenomenon known as the Great Resignation has taken hold. New York Times, 13 July 2022 The mass of the galaxy cluster is magnifying and distorting far more distant objects behind it — a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. Denise Chow, NBC News, 11 July 2022 For example, on his five year journey aboard the HMS Beagle in the 1830s, Charles Darwin unexpectedly sailed though an amazing natural phenomenon known as milky seas just off the southern tip of South America. Grrlscientist, Forbes, 11 July 2022 But as the front sagged south after around 7 p.m., storms began to erupt in Montgomery County and pass from west to east repeatedly over the same areas, a phenomenon known as training. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, 3 July 2022 This is due to the fact that when novices learn just a small amount about a complex task, Jordan says, their confidence in their performance rapidly increases, a phenomenon known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. Jacopo Prisco, CNN, 27 June 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of phenomenon

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for phenomenon

Late Latin phaenomenon, from Greek phainomenon, from neuter of phainomenos, present participle of phainesthai to appear, middle voice of phainein to show — more at fancy

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Time Traveler for phenomenon

Time Traveler

The first known use of phenomenon was in 1605

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Dictionary Entries Near phenomenon

phenomenology

phenomenon

phenomic

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Statistics for phenomenon

Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Phenomenon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phenomenon. Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for phenomenon

phenomenon

noun
phe·​nom·​e·​non | \ fi-ˈnä-mə-ˌnän How to pronounce phenomenon (audio) \
plural phenomena\ -​nə \ or phenomenons

Kids Definition of phenomenon

1 plural phenomena : an observable fact or event
2 : a rare or important fact or event
3 plural phenomenons : an extraordinary or exceptional person or thing

phenomenon

noun
phe·​nom·​e·​non | \ fi-ˈnäm-ə-ˌnän, -nən How to pronounce phenomenon (audio) \
plural phenomena\ -​nə, -​ˌnä How to pronounce phenomenon (audio) \

Medical Definition of phenomenon

1 : an observable fact or event
2a : an object or aspect known through the senses rather than by thought or intuition
b : a fact or event of scientific interest susceptible of scientific description and explanation

More from Merriam-Webster on phenomenon

Nglish: Translation of phenomenon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of phenomenon for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about phenomenon

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