1. Something apparently seen but having no physical reality; a phantom or an apparition. Also called phantasma.
2. An illusory mental image. Also called phantasma.
3. In Platonic philosophy, objective reality as perceived and distorted by the five senses.
[Middle English fantasme, from Old French, from Latin phantasma, from Greek, from phantazein, to make visible, from phantos, visible, from phainein, to show; see bhā-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
phan·tasmal (făn-tăzməl), phan·tasmic (-tăzmĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.