Definition of phantasm in English:



  • 1literary An illusion, apparition, or ghost.

    ‘the cart seemed to glide like a terrible phantasm’
    • ‘They thought He was a ghost, a phantasm, an apparition, a spirit, anything except their Master.’
    • ‘‘It was only a terrible phantasm trying to take root in my imagination,’ he reassured himself.’
    • ‘The flickering shadows and darting phantasms on the walls reminded me exactly of some sights I once encountered in a cave in Spain, filled with art.’
    • ‘Exposed to the light, the monk's inner demons and the phantasms of his dreams would no longer seem quite as frightening or threatening.’
    • ‘Six was a phantom - a ghost, a ghoul, a phantasm, a hallucination, a side effect of Stray's medicine, some unknown effect of acid, something of that sort.’
    ghost, phantom, apparition, spirit, wraith, shadow, presence, illusion
    1. 1.1archaic An illusory likeness of something.
      ‘every phantasm of a hope was quickly nullified’


Middle English (in the sense ‘deceptive appearance’): from Old French fantasme, via Latin from Greek phantasma, from phantazein ‘make visible’, from phainein ‘to show’. The change from f- to ph- in the 16th century was influenced by the Latin spelling.