Definition of thaumatrope in English:



  • 1A scientific toy devised in the 19th century, consisting of a disc with a different picture on each of its two sides, these appearing to combine into one image when the disc is rapidly rotated.

    • ‘Below you see the two sides of an early 20th century thaumatrope of a horse and circus bare back rider.’
    • ‘Twirl the thaumatrope by rolling the string between thumb and forefinger of each hand as fast as you can.’
    • ‘When you spin the thaumatrope, the images appear to combine, putting the parrot inside the birdcage.’
    • ‘The thaumatrope is a simple device with two different images, one on the front and one on the back.’
    • ‘You will learn how to make your own manual thaumatropes with a disk and two pieces of string.’
    • ‘One of the earliest motion toys, the thaumatrope can be traced to 1826, and may be even older.’
    • ‘She will get to make thaumatropes, which are cardboard disks with drawings on them suspended on string.’
    • ‘As the thaumatrope spins, the series of quick flashes is interpreted as one continuous image.’
    • ‘Once kids have gotten a feel for what animation is about with thaumatropes, it's time to move on to flip books.’
    • ‘As the thaumatrope appeared in stores, Dr. Ayrton published a book explaining the scientific principles underlying the toy.’
    • ‘You might also notice as the thaumatrope spins that the illusion is the strongest near its center line, or axis, where the pictures are most continuously visible.’
    • ‘Children and their parents will make their own thaumatropes to take home and perhaps serve as models for Christmas cards.’
    • ‘Viewing the spinning thaumatrope disc the brain imagines the intervening motion thus creating a ‘moving picture.’’
    1. 1.1
      another term for zoetrope


Early 19th century from Greek thauma ‘marvel’ + -tropos ‘-turning’.