Definition of phenomenon in English:

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Pronunciation: /fəˈnɒmɪnən/

noun (plural phenomena /fɪˈnɒmɪnə/)

1A fact or situation that is observed to exist or happen, especially one whose cause or explanation is in question: glaciers are interesting natural phenomena
More example sentences
  • I might add that sometimes explanations of physical phenomena involve mathematical facts.
  • It was left to Newton to provide the mathematical explanation of the phenomena that they observed.
  • They want science to be redefined to include non-natural or supernatural explanations for natural phenomena.
2 Philosophy The object of a person’s perception.
Example sentences
  • No empirical phenomena seem to demand a notion of backward causation for our understanding of them.
  • Kant also says that the categories can be applied to phenomena, but not to noumena.
  • According to Bohr, the only real properties of natural phenomena are observed phenomena.
3A remarkable person or thing: the band was a pop phenomenon just for their sales figures alone
More example sentences
  • Perhaps the remarkable phenomenon is that anything like the old nationalism echoed at all.
  • Hip-hop has long been one of the most fashion-conscious cultural phenomena in America.
  • As he nears the end of his remarkable career, Warne is a phenomenon waiting to be cast in gold for posterity.
marvel, sensation, wonder, prodigy, miracle, rarity, nonpareil, curiosity, spectacle
informal something else, something to write home about, something to shout about
North American informal standout
rare oner


The word phenomenon comes from Greek, and its plural form is phenomena, as in these phenomena are not fully understood. It is a mistake to treat phenomena as if it were a singular form, as in this is a strange phenomena.


Late 16th century: via late Latin from Greek phainomenon 'thing appearing to view', based on phainein 'to show'.

  • fantastic from Late Middle English:

    A word originally meaning ‘existing only in the imagination, unreal’ that comes from Greek phantastikos ‘vision’. Fantasy (Late Middle English) is of similar origin, as is fancy (Late Middle English), a contracted version of fantasy. The modern use of fantastic to mean ‘wonderful, excellent’ dates from the 1930s. The playful phrase trip the light fantastic, meaning ‘to dance’, goes back to John Milton's 1645 poem L'Allegro: ‘Come, and trip it as you go / On the light fantastic toe.’ Pant (Middle English) ‘to breath spasmodically’ goes back to the root verb of fantastic, phainon ‘to show’, via Old French pantaisier ‘be agitated, gasp’; as do phantom (Middle English) from phantasma ‘mere appearance’ and phenomenon (late 16th century) which meant ‘things appearing to view’ in the original Greek.

Words that rhyme with phenomenon


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: phe¦nom|enon

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