an optical phenomenon, especially in the desert or at sea, by which the image of some object appears displaced above, below, or to one side of its true position as a result of spatial variations of the index of refraction of air.
something illusory, without substance or reality.
(initial capital letter) Military. any of a series of supersonic, delta-wing, multirole French fighter-bombers.

1795–1805; < French, equivalent to (se) mir(er) to look at (oneself), be reflected (< Latin mīrārī to wonder at) + -age -age

2. illusion, phantom, fancy.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To mirage
World English Dictionary
mirage (mɪˈrɑːʒ)
1.  an image of a distant object or sheet of water, often inverted or distorted, caused by atmospheric refraction by hot air
2.  something illusory
[C19: from French, from (se) mirer to be reflected]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

"optical illusion of water in sandy deserts," 1812, from Fr. mirage, from se mirer "to be reflected," from L. mirare (see mirror).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Science Dictionary
mirage   (mĭ-räzh')  Pronunciation Key 

(click for larger image in new window)

An image formed under certain atmospheric conditions, in which objects appear to be reflected or displaced or in which nonexistent objects seem to appear. For example, the difference in the index of refraction between a low layer of very hot air and a higher level of cold air can cause light rays, travelling down from an object (such as the sky or a cloud) and passing through ever warmer air, to be refracted back up again. An observer viewing these light rays perceives them coming up off the ground, and thus sees the inverted image of the object, which appears lower than the object really is. In this way the sky itself can be reflected, resulting in the mirage of a distant lake.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
Certainly, the vision might turn out to be a mirage.
Like all too many shining visions, fusion turned out to be a mirage.
Our memory of those events is a mirage we call the past.
The first exoplanet discovered in the habitable zone could be a mirage,
  according to reports from an exoplanet meeting yesterday.
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature