from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An optical phenomenon that creates the illusion of water, often with inverted reflections of distant objects, and results from distortion of light by alternate layers of hot and cool air.
  • noun Something illusory or insubstantial.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An optical illusion due to excessive bending of light-rays in traversing adjacent layers of air of widely different densities, whereby distorted, displaced, or inverted images are produced.
  • noun Hence Deceptiveness of appearance; a delusive seeming; an illusion.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun An optical effect, sometimes seen on the ocean, but more frequently in deserts, due to total reflection of light at the surface common to two strata of air differently heated. The reflected image is seen, commonly in an inverted position, while the real object may or may not be in sight. When the surface is horizontal, and below the eye, the appearance is that of a sheet of water in which the object is seen reflected; when the reflecting surface is above the eye, the image is seen projected against the sky. The fata Morgana and looming are species of mirage.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun An optical phenomenon in which light is refracted through a layer of hot air close to the ground, giving the appearance of there being refuge in the distance.
  • noun figuratively An illusion.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an optical illusion in which atmospheric refraction by a layer of hot air distorts or inverts reflections of distant objects
  • noun something illusory and unattainable


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French, from mirer, to look at, from Latin mīrārī, to wonder at, from mīrus, wonderful; see smei- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Borrowing from French mirage


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word mirage.


  • So that can be blamed for the fact that actually, in the celebrity world, the self-made mirage is even more obvious if you look at the facts, than if you try to figure out the nepotistic and class connections of other worlds (in the boardrooms of North America, for example).

    Vanessa Richmond: Willow Smith and America's Dirty Little Fame Secret Vanessa Richmond 2010

  • (Aug. 25): The root of the word mirage is to look at or to admire.

    We Treat Home Prices Differently Than Other Prices 2010

  • And second, you will create a mirage from the heat that rises off the barrel, causing you to see your groups as being higher than they are.

    Sight-In Screwups 2004

  • And second, you will create a mirage from the heat that rises off the barrel, causing you to see your groups as being higher than they are.

    Three Common Sight-In Mistakes Rifle Shooters Make 2004

  • At first there was only pain in the thought of him, but afterwards a faint, misty little pleasure crept in, like a mirage from a land of lost delight.

    Further Chronicles of Avonlea Lucy Maud 1920

  • A kind of mirage is over it, due to the distance of 5,000 miles -- a mirage behind which we are told to see a happy, rejuvenated country; and a mirage that hides beneath its shade the uncounted corpses of Petrograd; a mirage which conceals from our sight the horrors and catastrophes which communism has meant there, and beckons with a false allurement towards an example from which a nearer vision would make us retreat in horror.

    The Proper Limitations of State Interference 1924

  • The mirror image-or, condensed into a single word, the "mirage" - is not only whole and non-human as opposed to fragmented, turbulent and human, it is an "exteriority," an outside that is also inside.

    BrontëBlog 2009

  • It’s shiny-happy-people high school mirage is nicely balanced with some truly biting humor and unexpected story-lines.

    GLEEks United « Giant Killer Squid - Film, Comics, News, Reviews and more 2010

  • This holds in both the ways used to study TeV-scale supersymmetry in this framework, namely the mirage mediation models where W is fine-tuned small and the large-volume models I have worked on.

    String Theory is Losing the Public Debate Sean 2007

  • His composition is now and then somewhat disconnected; the impressions are vague, almost illusory, and the mirage is a little obscure, but the intense and abiding charm of Nature remains.

    The French Immortals Series — Complete Various


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.