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noun, plural im·ag·i·nar·ies.
  1. Mathematics. imaginary number.

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

Synonyms for imaginary

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Antonyms for imaginary

1. real. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for imaginary

Contemporary Examples of imaginary

Historical Examples of imaginary

  • 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
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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper