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[fi-nom-uh-non, -nuh n] /fɪˈnɒm əˌnɒn, -nən/
noun, plural phenomena
[fi-nom-uh-nuh] /fɪˈnɒm ə nə/ (Show IPA),
or especially for 3, phenomenons.
a fact, occurrence, or circumstance observed or observable:
to study the phenomena of nature.
something that is impressive or extraordinary.
a remarkable or exceptional person; prodigy; wonder.
  1. an appearance or immediate object of awareness in experience.
  2. Kantianism. a thing as it appears to and is constructed by the mind, as distinguished from a noumenon, or thing-in-itself.
Origin of phenomenon
1595-1605; < Late Latin phaenomenon < Greek phainómenon appearance, noun use of neuter of phainómenos, present participle of phaínesthai to appear, passive of phaínein to show
Can be confused
phenomena, phenomenal, phenomenon (see usage note at the current entry)
1. event, incident. 2, 3. marvel, miracle.
Usage note
As with other plurals of Latin or Greek origin, like media and criteria, there is a tendency to use the plural phenomena as a singular (This phenomena will not be seen again), but such use occurs infrequently in edited writing. The plural form phenomenas, though occasionally seen, has even less currency. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for phenomenon
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The nature of the phenomenon was clear, but the laws which governed it were still a mystery.

  • San Francisco was a pleasure-resort as well as a city, and Salt Lake was a phenomenon.

    American Notes Rudyard Kipling
  • Duncan observed this phenomenon with natural astonishment not unmixed with awe.

    The Fortune Hunter Louis Joseph Vance
  • They re-entered the cottage, and sat some time conversing on the phenomenon they had seen.

    Maid Marian Thomas Love Peacock
  • There was here a phenomenon that no physiologist had yet studied.

British Dictionary definitions for phenomenon


noun (pl) -ena (-ɪnə), -enons
anything that can be perceived as an occurrence or fact by the senses
any remarkable occurrence or person
  1. the object of perception, experience, etc
  2. (in the writings of Kant) a thing as it appears and is interpreted in perception and reflection, as distinguished from its real nature as a thing-in-itself Compare noumenon
Usage note
Although phenomena is often treated as if it were singular, correct usage is to employ phenomenon with a singular construction and phenomena with a plural: that is an interesting phenomenon (not phenomena); several new phenomena were recorded in his notes
Word Origin
C16: via Late Latin from Greek phainomenon, from phainesthai to appear, from phainein to show
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 phenomenon

1570s, "fact, occurrence," from Late Latin phænomenon, from Greek phainomenon "that which appears or is seen," noun use of neuter present participle of phainesthai "to appear," passive of phainein (see phantasm). Meaning "extraordinary occurrence" first recorded 1771. Plural is phenomena.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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phenomenon in Medicine

phenomenon phe·nom·e·non (fĭ-nŏm'ə-nŏn', -nən)
n. pl. phe·nom·e·na (-nə)

  1. An occurrence, a circumstance, or a fact that is perceptible by the senses, especially one in relation to a disease.

  2. pl. phenome·nons An unusual, significant, or unaccountable fact or occurrence; a marvel.

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