AskDefine | Define illusion

Dictionary Definition



1 an erroneous mental representation [syn: semblance]
2 something many people believe that is false; "they have the illusion that I am very wealthy" [syn: fantasy, phantasy, fancy]
3 the act of deluding; deception by creating illusory ideas [syn: delusion, head game]
4 an illusory feat; considered magical by naive observers [syn: magic trick, conjuring trick, trick, magic, legerdemain, conjuration, deception]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Illusion




  1. Anything that seems to be something that it is not.
    • We saw what looked like a tiger among the trees, but it was an illusion caused by the shadows of the branches.
    • Using artificial additives, scientists can create the illusion of fruit flavours in food.
  2. A misapprehension; a belief in something that is in fact not true.
    • Jane has this illusion that John is in love with her.
  3. A magician’s trick.
  4. The fact of being an illusion (in any of the above senses). rfex this is totally unclear to me


anything that seems to be something that it is not
  • Chinese: 幻想
  • Danish: illusion
  • Dutch: illusie
  • French: illusion
  • Greek: παραίσθηση
  • Italian: illusione
  • Japanese: 幻覚 (Jpan)
  • Korean: 환각
  • Lithuanian: iliuzija
  • Romanian: iluzie
  • Russian: иллюзия
belief in something that is in fact not true
  • Danish: illusion
  • Dutch: illusie
  • German: Illusion
  • Greek: ψευδαίσθηση
  • Japanese: 幻想 (げんそう)
  • Russian: иллюзия
magician's trick
  • Danish: illusion
  • Dutch: illusie, truuk, trick
  • French: illusion
  • Greek: κόπλο
  • Russian: иллюзия
fact of being an illusion
  • Dutch: illusie
  • French: illusion
  • Russian: иллюзия

See also



  1. illusion



  • /ɔ̃/
  • /


fr-noun f

Extensive Definition

An illusion is a distortion of the senses, revealing how the brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation. While illusions distort reality, they are generally shared by most people. Illusions may occur with more of the human senses than vision, but visual illusions, optical illusions, are the most well known and understood. The emphasis on visual illusions occurs because vision often dominates the other senses. For example, individuals watching a ventriloquist will perceive the voice is coming from the dummy since they are able to see the dummy mouth the words. Some illusions are based on general assumptions the brain makes during perception. These assumptions are made using organizational principles, like Gestalt, an individual's ability of depth perception and motion perception, and perceptual constancy. Other illusions occur because of biological sensory structures within the human body or conditions outside of the body within one’s physical environment.
The term illusion refers to a specific form of sensory distortion. Unlike a hallucination, which is a distortion in the absence of a stimulus, an illusion describes a misinterpretation of a true sensation. For example, hearing voices regardless of the environment would be a hallucination, whereas hearing voices in the sound of running water (or other auditory source) would be an illusion.
Mimes are known for a repertoire of illusions that are created by physical means. The mime artist creates an illusion of acting upon or being acted upon by an unseen object. These illusions exploit the audience's assumptions about the physical world. Well known examples include "walls", "climbing stairs", "leaning", "descending ladders", "pulling and pushing" etc.

Optical illusions

Main article: Optical illusion
An optical illusion is always characterized by visually perceived images that, at least in common sense terms, are deceptive or misleading. Therefore, the information gathered by the eye is processed by the brain to give, on the face of it, a percept that does not tally with a physical measurement of the stimulus source. A conventional assumption is that there are physiological illusions that occur naturally and cognitive illusions that can be demonstrated by specific visual tricks that say something more basic about how human perceptual systems work. The human brain constructs a world inside our head based on what it samples from the surrounding environment. However sometimes it tries to organise this information it thinks best while other times it fills in the gaps. This way in which our brain works is the basis of an illusion.

Auditory illusions

Main article: Auditory illusion
An auditory illusion is an illusion of hearing, the sound equivalent of an optical illusion: the liner hears either sounds which are not present in the stimulus, or "impossible" sounds. In short, audio illusions highlight areas where the human ear and brain, as organic, makeshift tools, differ from perfect audio receptors (for better or for worse). One of example of an auditory illusions is a Shepard tone.

Tactile illusions

Main article: Touch illusion
Examples of tactile illusions include phantom limb, the thermal grill illusion, the cutaneous rabbit illusion and a curious illusion that occurs when the crossed index and middle fingers are run along the bridge of the nose with one finger on each side, resulting in the perception of two separate noses. Interestingly, the brain areas activated during illusory tactile perception are similar to those activated during actual tactile stimulation. Tactile illusions can also be elicited through haptic technology. These "illusory" tactile objects can be used to create "virtual objects"

Other senses

Illusions can occur with the other senses including that of taste and smell. It was discovered that even if some portion of the taste receptor on the tongue became damaged that illusory taste could be produced by tactile stimulation.. Evidence of olfactory (smell) illusions occurred when positive or negative verbal labels were given prior to olfactory stimulation.


Some illusions occur as result of an illness or a disorder. While these types of illusions are not shared with everyone they are typical of each condition. For example migraine suffers often report Fortification illusions.


External links

illusion in Bengali: দৃষ্টিবিভ্রম
illusion in German: Illusion
illusion in Spanish: Ilusión
illusion in Esperanto: Iluzio
illusion in French: Illusion
illusion in Croatian: Opsjena
illusion in Italian: Illusione
illusion in Hebrew: אשליה
illusion in Kazakh: Иллюзия
illusion in Lithuanian: Iliuzija
illusion in Macedonian: Илузија
illusion in Dutch: Illusie
illusion in Japanese: 錯覚
illusion in Portuguese: Ilusão
illusion in Russian: Иллюзия
illusion in Simple English: Illusion
illusion in Slovenian: Iluzija
illusion in Serbian: Илузија
illusion in Finnish: Illuusio
illusion in Swedish: Illusion
illusion in Ukrainian: Ілюзія
illusion in Urdu: فریب ِحس
illusion in Czech: Iluze

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

aberrancy, aberration, air, airy nothing, apparition, appearance, bamboozlement, bedevilment, befooling, bewitchery, bewitchment, bluffing, brainchild, bubble, calculated deception, captivation, chimera, circumvention, conning, deceiving, deception, deceptiveness, defectiveness, defrauding, delirium, delusion, delusiveness, deviancy, distortion, dream, dupery, eidolon, enchantment, enmeshment, ensnarement, entanglement, entrancement, entrapment, errancy, erroneousness, error, ether, fallaciousness, fallacy, falseness, falsity, fancy, fantasque, fantasy, fascination, fault, faultiness, fiction, figment, flaw, flawedness, flimflam, flimflammery, fond illusion, fooling, hallucination, hamartia, heresy, heterodoxy, hoodwinking, idle fancy, ignis fatuus, imagery, imagination, imagining, insubstantial image, invention, kidding, maggot, make-believe, maya, mirage, misapplication, misapprehension, misconception, misconstruction, misdoing, misfeasance, misinterpretation, misjudgment, mist, mistake, myth, obsession, outwitting, overreaching, peccancy, perversion, phantasm, phantasmagoria, phantom, pipe, pipe dream, possession, putting on, rainbow, romance, seeming, self-contradiction, self-deception, semblance, shadow, sick fancy, sin, sinfulness, smoke, snow job, song and dance, spirit, spoofery, spoofing, subterfuge, swindling, thick-coming fancies, thin air, trickiness, tricking, trip, unorthodoxy, untrueness, untruth, untruthfulness, vapor, victimization, vision, whim, whimsy, wildest dreams, willful misconception, wishful thinking, witchery, wrong, wrongness
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