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[ap-uh-rish-uh n] /ˌæp əˈrɪʃ ən/
a supernatural appearance of a person or thing, especially a ghost; a specter or phantom; wraith:
a ghostly apparition at midnight.
anything that appears, especially something remarkable or startling:
the surprising apparition of cowboys in New York City.
an act of appearing; manifestation.
Astronomy. the appearance or time when a comet, especially a periodic one, is visible:
the 1986 apparition of Halley's comet.
Origin of apparition
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English apparicio(u)n < Anglo-French, Old French < Late Latin appāritiōn- (stem of appāritiō, as calque of Greek epipháneia epiphany), equivalent to Latin appārit(us) (past participle of appārēre; see appear) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
apparitional, adjective
nonapparitional, adjective
1. spirit, shade.
Synonym Study
1. Apparition, phantasm, phantom are terms for a supernatural appearance. An apparition of a person or thing is an immaterial appearance that seems real, and is generally sudden or startling in its manifestation: an apparition of a headless horseman. Both phantom and phantasm denote an illusory appearance, as in a dream; the former may be pleasant, while the latter is usually frightening: a phantom of loveliness; a monstrous phantasm. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for apparition
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Hewson appreciated this as soon as he realized that he had been confronted with an apparition.

    Questionable Shapes William Dean Howells
  • She had not spoken to him since he had told the story of his apparition.

    Questionable Shapes William Dean Howells
  • In his reticence he had the sense of atoning not only to the apparition but to Miss Hernshaw too.

    Questionable Shapes William Dean Howells
  • I call it an apparition, because that's the shortest way out.

    Questionable Shapes William Dean Howells
  • Back to the locked gate—with perhaps the apparition following him?

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
  • Guess, my Olivia, what apparition I met at the door of my box to-night.

British Dictionary definitions for apparition


an appearance, esp of a ghost or ghostlike figure
the figure so appearing; phantom; spectre
the act of appearing or being visible
Word Origin
C15: from Late Latin appāritiō, from Latin: attendance, from appārēre to appear
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for apparition

c.1500, "unclosing" (of Heaven), from Anglo-French aparicion, Old French apparition, aparoison (15c.), used in reference to the Epiphany (revealing of Christ child to the Wise Men), from Late Latin apparitionem (nominative apparitio) "an appearance," also "attendants," in classical Latin "service, servants," noun of action from past participle stem of apparere "appear" (see appear). Meaning "ghost" first recorded c.1600; the shade of sense differentiation between appearance and apparition is that the latter tends to be unexpected or startling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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