an apparition or specter.
an appearance or illusion without material substance, as a dream image, mirage, or optical illusion.
a person or thing of merely illusory power, status, efficacy, etc.: the phantom of fear.
an illustration, part of which is given a transparent effect so as to permit representation of details otherwise hidden from view, as the inner workings of a mechanical device.
of, pertaining to, or of the nature of a phantom; illusory: a phantom sea serpent.
Electricity. noting or pertaining to a phantom circuit.
named, included, or recorded but nonexistent; fictitious: Payroll checks were made out and cashed for phantom employees.
Also, fantom.

1250–1300; Middle English fantosme < Middle French, Old French < Latin phantasma phantasm

phantomlike, adjective

1, 2. See apparition. 5. imaginary.

5. real, material. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
phantom (ˈfæntəm)
1.  a.  an apparition or spectre
 b.  (as modifier): a phantom army marching through the sky
2.  the visible representation of something abstract, esp as appearing in a dream or hallucination: phantoms of evil haunted his sleep
3.  something apparently unpleasant or horrific that has no material form
4.  med another name for manikin
[C13: from Old French fantosme, from Latin phantasmaphantasm]

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

c.1300, fantum "illusion, unreality," from O.Fr. fantesme (12c.), from V.L. *fantauma, from L. phantasma (see phantasm). The ph- restored in Eng. c.1590. Meaning "specter, spirit, ghost" is attested from 1382; that of "something having the form, but not the substance, of a real thing" is from 1707.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

phantom phan·tom or fan·tom (fān'təm)

  1. Something apparently seen, heard, or sensed, but having no physical reality.

  2. An image that appears only in the mind; an illusion.

  3. A model, especially a transparent one, of the human body or of any of its parts.

  1. Resembling, characteristic of, or being a phantom; illusive.

  2. Fictitious; nonexistent.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences
For the general public the distinction between a ghost and phantom is a murky
Thus, the dreaded phantom of swamping by large retailers, is a figment of
  political imagination.
The result is a phantom service billed at the same inconspicuous amount every
  month to the credit card bill.
For amputees suffering from phantom pain, a computer-generated cure might soon
  be at hand.
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