• synonyms


See more synonyms for imaginary on Thesaurus.com
  1. existing only in the imagination or fancy; not real; fancied: an imaginary illness; the imaginary animals in the stories of Dr. Seuss.
Show More
noun, plural im·ag·i·nar·ies.
  1. Mathematics. imaginary number.
Show More

Origin of imaginary

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin imāginārius, equivalent to imāgin-, (stem of imāgō) image + -ārius -ary
Related formsim·ag·i·nar·i·ly, adverbim·ag·i·nar·i·ness, nounnon·im·ag·i·nar·i·ly, adverbnon·im·ag·i·nar·i·ly·ness, nounnon·im·ag·i·nar·i·ness, nounnon·im·ag·i·nar·y, adjectivepre·im·ag·i·nar·y, adjectiveun·im·ag·i·nar·y, adjective
Can be confusedimaginary imaginative


See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com


1. real.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for imaginary

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He bathed in this imaginary future as in the waters of omnipotence.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • And she created an imaginary experience for herself almost unknowingly.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • This is because he is dealing with an imaginary world, not with the world as it is.

  • In politics, an imaginary rat-pit in which the statesman wrestles with his record.

  • Then beat an imaginary child, and said, 'Broom-handles and pokers.'

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for imaginary


  1. existing in the imagination; unreal; illusory
  2. maths involving or containing imaginary numbers. The imaginary part of a complex number, z, is usually written Im z
Show More
Derived Formsimaginarily, adverbimaginariness, noun
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 imaginary


"not real," late 14c., ymaginaire, from imagine + -ary; or else from Late Latin imaginarius "seeming, fancied," from imaginari. Imaginary friend (one who does not exist) attested by 1789.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper