See more synonyms for apparition on
  1. a supernatural appearance of a person or thing, especially a ghost; a specter or phantom; wraith: a ghostly apparition at midnight.
  2. anything that appears, especially something remarkable or startling: the surprising apparition of cowboys in New York City.
  3. an act of appearing; manifestation.
  4. Astronomy. the appearance or time when a comet, especially a periodic one, is visible: the 1986 apparition of Halley's comet.

Origin of apparition

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 formsap·pa·ri·tion·al, adjectivenon·ap·pa·ri·tion·al, adjective

Synonyms for apparition

See more synonyms for on

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for apparition

Contemporary Examples of apparition

Historical Examples of apparition

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for apparition


  1. an appearance, esp of a ghost or ghostlike figure
  2. the figure so appearing; phantom; spectre
  3. the act of appearing or being visible

Word Origin for apparition

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

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