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 phantomlike

Historical Examples of phantomlike

  • Confetti tangled in coppery hair, a wilful mouth, fragrantly painted, and phantomlike swans on a black lake.

    The Three Black Pennys

    Joseph Hergesheimer

  • When we had covered a mile or so of the plain, our phantomlike escort crossed the pass, and came full gallop down the hill.

    In the Forbidden Land

    Arnold Henry Savage Landor

  • There came out of the mist a long procession of grey, phantomlike figures, each one leading a pony.

    In the Forbidden Land

    Arnold Henry Savage Landor

  • Their thoughts are phantomlike; like shadows, they continually escape their grasp.

    The Verbalist

    Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)

British Dictionary definitions for phantomlike



  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 phantomlike



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

phantomlike 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.