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[ap-uh-rish-uh n] /ˌæp əˈrɪʃ ən/
a supernatural appearance of a person or thing, especially a ghost; a specter or phantom; wraith:
a ghostly apparition at midnight.
anything that appears, especially something remarkable or startling:
the surprising apparition of cowboys in New York City.
an act of appearing; manifestation.
Astronomy. the appearance or time when a comet, especially a periodic one, is visible:
the 1986 apparition of Halley's comet.
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English apparicio(u)n < Anglo-French, Old French < Late Latin appāritiōn- (stem of appāritiō, as calque of Greek epipháneia epiphany), equivalent to Latin appārit(us) (past participle of appārēre; see appear) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
apparitional, adjective
nonapparitional, adjective
1. spirit, shade. Apparition, phantasm, phantom are terms for a supernatural appearance. An apparition of a person or thing is an immaterial appearance that seems real, and is generally sudden or startling in its manifestation: an apparition of a headless horseman. Both phantom and phantasm denote an illusory appearance, as in a dream; the former may be pleasant, while the latter is usually frightening: a phantom of loveliness; a monstrous phantasm. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for apparition
  • The apparition was not frightening.
  • There is now a prowlike apparition visible onscreen that shows where the virtual craft is headed.
  • Yet I was greatly disturbed at the apparition.
  • The apparition is a man wearing 19th-century clothing and smoking a pipe.
  • Frightened by the apparition, the king ordered his astrologers to explain the inscription; but they were unable to read it.
  • The apparition informed us he had more right to the path than any folks living.
  • She became a kind of weekend and holiday apparition.
  • He came toward me, a blurred figure looming like a dark apparition.
  • She's so disconnected from the story and the other actors, she might as well be a gorgeous apparition.
  • Not a person then, but an apparition.
British Dictionary definitions for apparition


an appearance, esp of a ghost or ghostlike figure
the figure so appearing; phantom; spectre
the act of appearing or being visible
Word Origin
C15: from Late Latin appāritiō, from Latin: attendance, from appārēre to appear
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for apparition

c.1500, "unclosing" (of Heaven), from Anglo-French aparicion, Old French apparition, aparoison (15c.), used in reference to the Epiphany (revealing of Christ child to the Wise Men), from Late Latin apparitionem (nominative apparitio) "an appearance," also "attendants," in classical Latin "service, servants," noun of action from past participle stem of apparere "appear" (see appear). Meaning "ghost" first recorded c.1600; the shade of sense differentiation between appearance and apparition is that the latter tends to be unexpected or startling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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