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.


Nearby words

  1. phantasmagory,
  2. phantasmal,
  3. phantasmatic,
  4. phantast,
  5. phantasy,
  6. phantom circuit,
  7. phantom corpuscle,
  8. phantom limb,
  9. phantom limb pain,
  10. phantom pregnancy

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.