Word of the Day Archive
Thursday October 31, 2013
phantasmagoric \fan-tax-muh-GAWR-ik, -GOR-\
1. having a fantastic or deceptive appearance, as something in a dream or created by the imagination.
2. having the appearance of an optical illusion, especially one produced by a magic lantern.
3. changing or shifting, as a scene made up of many elements.
The phantasmagoric effect was vastly heightened by the artificial introduction of a strong continual current of wind behind the draperies—giving a hideous and uneasy animation to the whole.
-- Edgar Allan Poe, "Ligeia," 1838
It was like nothing so much as the phantasmagoric play of the northern lights.
-- Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, 1850
Phantasmagoric comes from the Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to shine." It came to English from the Old French in the 1800s.