View synonyms for imagination


[ ih-maj-uh-ney-shuhn ]


  1. the faculty of imagining, or of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses.
  2. the action or process of forming such images or concepts.
  3. the faculty of producing ideal creations consistent with reality, as in literature, as distinct from the power of creating illustrative or decorative imagery. Compare fancy ( def 9 ).
  4. the product of imagining a conception or mental creation, often a baseless or fanciful one.
  5. ability to face and resolve difficulties; resourcefulness:

    a job that requires imagination.

    Synonyms: thought, enterprise, ingenuity

  6. Psychology. the power of reproducing images stored in the memory under the suggestion of associated images reproductive imagination or of recombining former experiences in the creation of new images directed at a specific goal or aiding in the solution of problems creative imagination.
  7. (in Kantian epistemology) synthesis of data from the sensory manifold into objects by means of the categories.
  8. Archaic. a plan, scheme, or plot.


/ ɪˌmædʒɪˈneɪʃən /


  1. the faculty or action of producing ideas, esp mental images of what is not present or has not been experienced
  2. mental creative ability
  3. the ability to deal resourcefully with unexpected or unusual problems, circumstances, etc
  4. (in romantic literary criticism, esp that of S. T. Coleridge) a creative act of perception that joins passive and active elements in thinking and imposes unity on the poetic material Compare fancy
“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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Derived Forms

  • imˌagiˈnational, adjective
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Other Words From

  • i·magi·nation·al adjective
  • nonim·agi·nation·al adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of imagination1

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English, Middle French, from Latin imāginātiōn- (stem of imāginātiō ) “mental image, fancy,” equivalent to imāgināt(us), past participle of the verb imāginārī imagine ( imāgin-, stem of imāgō image + -ātus -ate 1 ) + -iōn- -ion
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Idioms and Phrases

see figment of one's imagination .
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Synonym Study

See fancy.
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Example Sentences

It takes us as finite beings and gives us almost infinite capacity to create new worlds of imagination.

The process of decolonizing one’s imagination is the first step to envisioning a future where pleasures are more evenly distributed than was the case in our past.

Now, with a little imagination, there are days where I can embrace it as a New Age-y sweat-based regimen among the skittering rodents.

People, he says, are too limited by their own experience and imaginations.

From Fortune

They have little imagination about how to engage in social change, and even less imagination about the alternative world they would build if they could.

From Fortune

Does each character have one in real life that inspired it, or are they from your imagination?

She found instead a show of imagination, artistry, and above all, really happy people—and she quickly fell in love.

This little nook is the perfect spot for some quiet reading time or to let your imagination run wild.

So after that initial inspiration, my imagination created the rest.

Today, Turkey in the German imagination has mostly to do with immigration, assimilation, and EU membership.

Distance, the uncertain light, and imagination, magnified it to a high wall; high as the wall of China.

I could have sworn I heard a cry, and one of my men spoke in a tone that assured me my imagination had not been playing a trick.

It was when the face and figure of a great tragedian began to haunt her imagination and stir her senses.

How much of the imagination, how much of the intellect, evaporates and is lost while we seek to embody it in words!

When she heard it there came before her imagination the figure of a man standing beside a desolate rock on the seashore.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




imaginary unitimaginative