apparition


apparition
apparition, phantasm, phantom, wraith, ghost, spirit, specter, shade, revenant mean a visible but immaterial appearance of a person or thing, especially a likeness of a dead person or of a person or thing that is not physically present. Apparition, phantasm, and phantom all stress the illusory character of what appears to the sight.
Apparition often connotes suddenness or unexpectedness of coming
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[enter the ghost of Caesar] . . . I think it is the weakness of mine eyes that shapes this monstrous apparitionShak.

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while phantasm often suggests the workings of a disordered or overexcited imagination
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horrible forms, what and who are ye? never yet there came phantasms so foul through monster-teeming Hell— Shelley

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and phantom a dreamlike character and form without substance or shape without body or mass
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so live and laugh, nor be dismayed as one by one the phantoms go— E. A. Robinson

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Wraith specifically denotes an apparition of a living person that appears to a friend or relative and portends the former’s death but is also used of an apparition of a dead person
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she was uncertain if it were the gypsy or her wraithScott

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In extended use it stresses the insubstantial and evanescent character of the apparition
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O hollow wraith of dying fame, fade wholly, while the soul exults— Tennyson

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The remaining words in their literal senses all denote an apparition of a dead person.
Ghost and spirit are the familiar and general terms for a disembodied soul; specter (not necessarily human) connotes more of the mysterious or terrifying
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ghosts, wandering here and there, troop home to churchyards— Shak.

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I am thy father’s spirit, doomed for a certain term to walk the night— Shak.

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grisly specters, which the Fiend had raised— Milton

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lo! when the service was ended, a form appeared on the threshold . . . why does the bridegroom start and stare at the strange apparition . . . ? Is it a phantom of air . . . ? Is it a ghost from the grave . . .?— Longfellow

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Shade usually connotes impalpability but it stresses personality rather than mode of appearance
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mighty heroes’ more majestic shadesDryden

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followed . . . by the shade of their dead relative— Frazer

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Revenant, when it denotes a ghost, carries none of the implications of the other terms for a disembodied spirit except the return from the grave; it is therefore used often in straight prose or where a term without emotional connotations is desirable
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thus, our revenant from a hundred years ago would find us occupied yet with measuring intensities of force— Darrow

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I felt for a queer moment of hallucination more of a ghost than the ghost I had come to visit—a revenant out of a rowdy present into the more stately epoch— L. P. Smith

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Analogous words: illusion, *delusion, hallucination

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • apparition — [ aparisjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1190; lat. ecclés. apparitio « apparition, épiphanie » 1 ♦ Action d apparaître, de se montrer aux yeux. ⇒ manifestation. L apparition d un phénomène. L apparition du jour. ⇒ naissance. Apparition d une comète. Apparition de… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Apparition — Ap pa*ri tion, n. [F. apparition, L. apparitio, fr. apparere. See {Appear}.] 1. The act of becoming visible; appearance; visibility. Milton. [1913 Webster] The sudden apparition of the Spaniards. Prescott. [1913 Webster] The apparition of Lawyer… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • apparition — APPARITION. s. f. Manifestation de quelque objet, qui étant invisible de lui mème, se rend visible. L Apparition de l Ange Gabriel à la Sainte Vierge. L apparition des esprits, des spectres. [b]f♛/b] Il se dit aussi De la manifestation subite d… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • apparition — Apparition. s. f. v. Manifestation de quelque objet qui estant invisible de luy mesme, se rend visible. Avoir une apparition. l apparition de l Ange Gabriel à la sainte Vierge. l apparition des esprits, des spectres. veritable apparition. fausse… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Apparition — (von lateinisch apperare erscheinen , oder apperatio Amtsdiener ) steht für: Apparition (Biologie), die Erscheinungsform von Tumoren L´Apparition d´Eglise éternelle, ein Orgelstück (1932) von Olivier Messiaen Das Erscheinen eines Sterns Eine… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • apparition — (n.) c.1500, unclosing (of Heaven), from Anglo Fr. aparicion, O.Fr. apparition, aparoison (15c.), used in reference to the Epiphany (revealing of Christ child to the Wise Men), from L.L. apparitionem (nom. apparitio) an appearance, also… …   Etymology dictionary

  • apparition — [ap΄ə rish′ən] n. [ME apparicioun < OFr apparition < ML apparitio, epiphany, appearance (in L, attendance, service) < apparere, APPEAR] 1. anything that appears unexpectedly or in an extraordinary way; esp., a strange figure appearing… …   English World dictionary

  • Apparitĭon — (v. lat.), Erscheinung …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Apparition — (lat.), das Sichtbarwerden (von Gestirnen); Erscheinung; Gespenst …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Apparition — (lat.), die (bes. außerordentliche) Erscheinung; das Sichtbarwerden (eines Sterns) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon


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