or fan·tom



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

Synonyms for phantom

Synonym study

1, 2. See apparition.

Antonyms for phantom Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for phantom

Contemporary Examples of phantom

Historical Examples of phantom

  • A phantom of him moving silent about the house fill the part as well!

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • He looked after his wife fixedly, without a word, as though she had been a phantom.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • That which would remain in the cupel if one should assay a phantom.

  • The phantom that my mind pursued, was another and more real child.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • What phantom of the brain did he pursue; and why did he look down so constantly?

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for phantom



  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

phantom in Medicine



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.