or fan·tom

[ fan-tuhm ]
/ ˈfæn təm /


an apparition or specter.
an appearance or illusion without material substance, as a dream image, mirage, or optical illusion.
a person or thing of merely illusory power, status, efficacy, etc.: the phantom of fear.
an illustration, part of which is given a transparent effect so as to permit representation of details otherwise hidden from view, as the inner workings of a mechanical device.


Origin of phantom

1250–1300; Middle English fantosme < Middle French, Old French < Latin phantasma phantasm
Related formsphan·tom·like, adjective

Synonym study

1, 2. See apparition. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for phantom

British Dictionary definitions for phantom


/ (ˈfæntəm) /


  1. an apparition or spectre
  2. (as modifier)a phantom army marching through the sky
the visible representation of something abstract, esp as appearing in a dream or hallucinationphantoms of evil haunted his sleep
something apparently unpleasant or horrific that has no material form
med another name for manikin (def. 2b)

Word Origin for phantom

C13: from Old French fantosme, from Latin phantasma phantasm
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 phantom



c.1300, fantum "illusion, unreality," from Old French fantosme (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *fantauma, from Latin phantasma "an apparition" (see phantasm). The ph- was restored in English late 16c. (see ph). Meaning "specter, spirit, ghost" is attested from late 14c.; that of "something having the form, but not the substance, of a real thing" is from 1707. As an adjective from early 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for phantom



Something apparently seen, heard, or sensed, but having no physical reality.
An image that appears only in the mind; an illusion.
A model, especially a transparent one, of the human body or of any of its parts.


Resembling, characteristic of, or being a phantom; illusive.
Fictitious; nonexistent.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.