Definition of phantom in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfan(t)əm/


1A ghost: a phantom who haunts lonely roads figurative the centrist and conservative parties were mere phantoms in 1943 [as modifier]: a phantom ship
More example sentences
  • Four fearless women are preparing to spend the night in the company of ghosts, ghouls and phantoms to raise money for the Abbeyfield care home where they work.
  • Then, in a room filled with Halloween images of ghosts and phantoms, Duncan Smith got his chance to show his hidden talents - at the pool table.
  • It is like a medieval, deserted castle that is full of phantoms and ghosts, and this makes you feel sick - you just want to run away, far from these cold, scary walls.
informal spook
literary phantasm, shade
1.1A figment of the imagination: he tried to clear the phantoms from his head and grasp reality [as modifier]: the women suffered from phantom pain that no physician could ever find
More example sentences
  • The Tory revival is a phantom, the imagined product of a media despairing of another utterly predictable election result.
  • As we said before, the brand is a phantom, a cypher, figments of the popular imagination that have somehow become the essential conduit for cultural information about objects.
  • While his mind had been pursuing its intangible phantoms and turning in irresolution from such pursuit he had heard about him the constant voices of his father and of his masters, urging him to be a gentleman above all things.
delusion, figment of the imagination, hallucination, illusion, chimera, vision, mirage
1.2 [as modifier] Denoting a financial arrangement or transaction that has been invented for fraudulent purposes but that does not really exist: he diverted an estimated $1,500,000 into “phantom” bank accounts
More example sentences
  • This problem of built-in gains is related to another phenomenon: phantom year-end income.
  • Like stock options, phantom stock must be expensed throughout its vesting period.
  • But there's an easier way to avoid phantom interest that will also provide you with some financial security.


Middle English (also in the sense 'illusion, delusion'): from Old French fantosme, based on Greek phantasma (see phantasm).

  • 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 phantom


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: phan·tom

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