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[ih-loo-suh-ree, -zuh-] /ɪˈlu sə ri, -zə-/
causing illusion; deceptive; misleading.
of the nature of an illusion; unreal.
Origin of illusory
1590-1600; < Late Latin illūsōrius, equivalent to illūd(ere) to mock, ridicule (see illusion) + -tōrius -tory1
Related forms
illusorily, adverb
illusoriness, noun
unillusory, adjective
Can be confused
elusive, illusory.
1. fallacious, specious, false. 2. imaginary; visionary, fancied. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for illusory
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He found something mysterious, illusory, phantasmal about her which filled him with awe.

    The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci Dmitry Sergeyevich Merezhkovsky
  • It may be remote, it may be hidden by centuries of illusory nationality, but it must be there.

    Mountain Meditations L. Lind-af-Hageby
  • Time after time, I was struck by the change in their attitude after the briefest enjoyment of this illusory power.

    The Pivot of Civilization Margaret Sanger
  • These are the illusory wills of man, and there is one way in which you may distinguish them from the true will.

    Avatras Annie Besant
  • Not only does he deny all absolute permanence, but even a relative permanence of things is declared to be illusory.

British Dictionary definitions for illusory


producing, produced by, or based on illusion; deceptive or unreal
Derived Forms
illusorily, illusively, adverb
illusoriness, illusiveness, noun
Usage note
Illusive is sometimes wrongly used where elusive is meant: they fought hard, but victory remained elusive (not illusive)
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 illusory

1590s, from French illusorie, from Late Latin illusorius "ironical, of a mocking character," from illus-, past participle stem of Latin illudere "mock at," literally "to play with," from assimilated form of in- "at, upon" (see in- (2)) + ludere "to play" (see ludicrous).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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