- an optical phenomenon, especially in the desert or at sea, by which the image of some object appears displaced above, below, or to one side of its true position as a result of spatial variations of the index of refraction of air.
- something illusory, without substance or reality.
- (initial capital letter) Military. any of a series of supersonic, delta-wing, multirole French fighter-bombers.
Origin of mirage
1795–1805; < French, equivalent to (se) mir(er) to look at (oneself), be reflected (< Latin mīrārī to wonder at) + -age -age
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for mirage
I found it beckoning, almost like a mirage, in the form of the Vino Volo wine bar.Beer Countries vs. Wine Countries
December 7, 2014
The ER—at least on the surface—is a mirage to many of these inconveniences.‘Code Black’: An M.D. on How to Fix Our Emergency Room Crisis
June 20, 2014
This week they got Mike Tyson and Razor Ruddock over at the Mirage, where the fake volcano blows up every twenty minutes.The Stacks: Harold Conrad Was Many Things, But He Was Never, Ever Dull
March 8, 2014
The stability the military purports to bring to Egypt is a mirage; seeking shelter in its cool waters will prove disastrous.The Egypt Crackdown and Israeli-Palestinian Talks
August 22, 2013
Instead, just as one who prefers a dreamworld to reality predictably would, what he saw (and responded to) is a mirage.David In Wonderland
March 20, 2013
All these things shimmered and flickered and wavered in the mirage of noon.The Leopard Woman
Stewart Edward White
You are no delusion—no mirage, but Rima, like no other being on earth.Green Mansions
W. H. Hudson
I've often seen the mirage, generally about dark, far out on the western plains.The Rock of Chickamauga
Joseph A. Altsheler
They stretch forth their hands to gather the mirage into their bosom.A Spirit in Prison
"A dream," he thought, "a mirage of the mind;" and he compelled himself to go up.The Manxman
- an image of a distant object or sheet of water, often inverted or distorted, caused by atmospheric refraction by hot air
- something illusory
C19: from French, from (se) mirer to be reflected
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 mirage
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- An image formed under certain atmospheric conditions, in which objects appear to be reflected or displaced or in which nonexistent objects seem to appear. For example, the difference in the index of refraction between a low layer of very hot air and a higher level of cold air can cause light rays, travelling down from an object (such as the sky or a cloud) and passing through ever warmer air, to be refracted back up again. An observer viewing these light rays perceives them coming up off the ground, and thus sees the inverted image of the object, which appears lower than the object really is. In this way the sky itself can be reflected, resulting in the mirage of a distant lake.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.