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or fantom

[fan-tuh m] /ˈfæn təm/
an apparition or specter.
an appearance or illusion without material substance, as a dream image, mirage, or optical illusion.
a person or thing of merely illusory power, status, efficacy, etc.:
the phantom of fear.
an illustration, part of which is given a transparent effect so as to permit representation of details otherwise hidden from view, as the inner workings of a mechanical device.
of, relating to, or of the nature of a phantom; illusory:
a phantom sea serpent.
Electricity. noting or pertaining to a phantom circuit.
named, included, or recorded but nonexistent; fictitious:
Payroll checks were made out and cashed for phantom employees.
Origin of phantom
1250-1300; Middle English fantosme < Middle French, Old French < Latin phantasma phantasm
Related forms
phantomlike, adjective
5. imaginary.
5. real, material.
Synonym Study
1, 2. See apparition. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for phantom
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The phantom ship, for such she appeared, loomed larger and larger.

  • Quiet and dark, beside him stood the phantom, with its outstretched hand.

    A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens
  • The anthropologist was too erratic a man 122 to inspire confidence, and the phantom needed someone whom he could trust absolutely.

  • She seemed to him extraordinarily beautiful and majestic as a phantom.

    Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
  • Stained she must take even the phantom of his hand, or not at all.

    The Story of Louie Oliver Onions
British Dictionary definitions for phantom


  1. an apparition or spectre
  2. (as modifier): a phantom army marching through the sky
the visible representation of something abstract, esp as appearing in a dream or hallucination: phantoms of evil haunted his sleep
something apparently unpleasant or horrific that has no material form
(med) another name for manikin (sense 2b)
Word Origin
C13: from Old French fantosme, from Latin phantasmaphantasm
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 phantom

c.1300, fantum "illusion, unreality," from Old French fantosme (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *fantauma, from Latin phantasma "an apparition" (see phantasm). The ph- was restored in English late 16c. (see ph). Meaning "specter, spirit, ghost" is attested from late 14c.; that of "something having the form, but not the substance, of a real thing" is from 1707. As an adjective from early 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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phantom in Medicine

phantom phan·tom or fan·tom (fān'təm)

  1. Something apparently seen, heard, or sensed, but having no physical reality.

  2. An image that appears only in the mind; an illusion.

  3. A model, especially a transparent one, of the human body or of any of its parts.

  1. Resembling, characteristic of, or being a phantom; illusive.

  2. Fictitious; nonexistent.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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