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[fan-taz-muh-gawr-ee-uh, -gohr-] /fænˌtæz məˈgɔr i ə, -ˈgoʊr-/
a shifting series of phantasms, illusions, or deceptive appearances, as in a dream or as created by the imagination.
a changing scene made up of many elements.
an optical illusion produced by a magic lantern or the like in which figures increase or diminish in size, pass into each other, dissolve, etc.
Origin of phantasmagoria
1795-1805; < French fantasmagorie, compound based on fantasme phantasm; second element perhaps representing Greek agorá assembly, gathering; see -ia
Related forms
phantasmagorial, phantasmagoric
[fan-taz-muh-gawr-ik, -gor-] /fænˌtæz məˈgɔr ɪk, -ˈgɒr-/ (Show IPA),
phantasmagorian, adjective
phantasmagorist, noun


or phantasmagorical

[fan-taz-muh-gawr-ik, -gor-] /fænˌtæz məˈgɔr ɪk, -ˈgɒr-/
having a fantastic or deceptive appearance, as something in a dream or created by the imagination.
having the appearance of an optical illusion, especially one produced by a magic lantern.
changing or shifting, as a scene made up of many elements.
Sometimes, phantasmagorial.
Related forms
phantasmagorically, adverb
phantasmagorially, phantasmagorianly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for phantasmagorial
Historical Examples
  • The memory of it was lost amongst the crowded events of that phantasmagorial night.

    Poppy Cynthia Stockley
  • Her whole life was passing before her, phantasmagorial and unreal.

    The Lion's Brood Duffield Osborne
  • phantasmagorial exhibitions were at this time a novelty to the masses.

British Dictionary definitions for phantasmagorial


(psychol) a shifting medley of real or imagined figures, as in a dream
(films) a sequence of pictures made to vary in size rapidly while remaining in focus
(rare) a shifting scene composed of different elements
Derived Forms
phantasmagoric (ˌfæntæzməˈɡɒrɪk), phantasmagorical, adjective
phantasmagorically, adverb
Word Origin
C19: probably from French fantasmagorie production of phantasms, from phantasm + -agorie, perhaps from Greek ageirein to gather together
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 phantasmagorial



1802, name of a "magic lantern" exhibition brought to London in 1802 by Parisian showman Paul de Philipstal, the name an alteration of French phantasmagorie, said to have been coined 1801 by French dramatist Louis-Sébastien Mercier as though to mean "crowd of phantoms," from Greek phantasma "image, phantom, apparition" (see phantasm) + second element probably a French form of Greek agora "assembly" (but this may have been chosen more for the dramatic sound than any literal sense). Transferred meaning "shifting scene of many elements" is attested from 1822. Related: Phantasmagorical.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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phantasmagorial in Medicine

phantasmagoria phan·tas·ma·go·ri·a (fān-tāz'mə-gôr'ē-ə) or phan·tas·ma·go·ry (fān-tāz'mə-gôr'ē)
n. phan·tas·ma·go·ri·as or phan·tas·ma·go·ries
A fantastic sequence of haphazardly associative imagery, as seen in dreams or fever.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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