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[mi-rahzh] /mɪˈrɑʒ/
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.
Origin of mirage
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for mirage
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Afterwards I saw things differently, but that first day the great city of the mighty Khan seemed as a mirage to me.

  • All these things shimmered and flickered and wavered in the mirage of noon.

    The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White
  • At first I thought that it was a mirage, risen to cheat me into hope.

    In the grip of the Mullah F. S. Brereton
  • You are no delusion—no mirage, but Rima, like no other being on earth.

    Green Mansions W. H. Hudson
  • It proved to be a rock, the image of which was presented in the air by mirage.

    The Spirit Land Samuel B. (Samuel Bulfinch) Emmons
British Dictionary definitions for mirage


an image of a distant object or sheet of water, often inverted or distorted, caused by atmospheric refraction by hot air
something illusory
Word Origin
C19: from French, from (se) mirer to be reflected
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 mirage

"optical illusion of water in sandy deserts," 1812, from French mirage, from se mirer "to be reflected," from Latin mirare (see mirror). Or the French word is from Latin mirus "wonderful" (see miracle).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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mirage in Science

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.
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