Share this entry
Barnum effect Syllabification: Bar·num ef·fect

Definition of Barnum effect in English:


The tendency to accept certain information as true, such as character assessments or horoscopes, even when the information is so vague as to be worthless.
Example sentences
  • Much of the seeming ‘accuracy ‘of such checklists could stem from ‘P.T. Barnum effects ‘.
  • It also cuts out the ‘Barnum effect’ of performers fishing for information.
  • The technique appears to have parallels to the Barnum effect used by some mediums, clairvoyants, and tarot card readers.


Named after P. T. Barnum (see Barnum, P. T.); the word Barnum was in use from the mid 19th century as a noun in the sense 'nonsense, humbug'.

Definition of Barnum effect in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources