imaginary


imaginary
imaginary adj
1 Imaginary, fanciful, visionary, fantastic, chimerical, quixotic are comparable when they are applied to conceptions or to the persons who form the conceptions and mean unreal or unbelievable and out of keeping with things as they are or conceiving such unreal or unbelievable things.
Something is imaginary which is fictitious and purely the product of an active or an excited imagination
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imaginary ills and fancied tortures— Addison

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those nervous persons who may be terrified by imaginary dangers are often courageous in the face of real danger— Ellis

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Something is or, less often, one is fanciful which or who indicates a giving rein to the power of conceiving or producing things that have no real counterpart in nature or in fact
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in Wales he found a cottage perfectly roofed with fern .... Had a painter put this in a picture, many would have exclaimed: "How fanciful!"—Jefferies

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Rousseau's fanciful image of primitive man, uncontaminated by science or art, undepraved by thought— Grandgent

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Something is visionary which, although it seems real and practical to the one who conceives it, is usually the product of a dream or vision or of an unrestrained imagination and is incapable of realization
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visionary schemes for world conquest

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Goldsmith had long a visionary project, that... he would go to Aleppo, in order to acquire a knowledge ... of any arts peculiar to the East, and introduce them into Britain— Boswell

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this was a visionary scheme ... a project far above his skill— Swift

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One is visionary who is given to such dreams, visions, and fancies and inspired by the hopes they arouse
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if a man happens not to succeed in such an enquiry, he will be thought weak and visionaryBurke

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planning, as his visionary father might have done, to go to Brazil to pick up a fortune— Van Doren

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Something is fantastic (see also FANTASTIC 2) which is or, more often, seems extravagantly fanciful or queer and hence incapable of belief or, sometimes, approval
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in words, as fashions, the same rule will hold; alike fantastic, if too new, or old— Pope

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his strange coming, his strange story, his devotion, his early death and posthumous fame—it was all fantasticCather

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a fantastic world inhabited by monsters of iron and steel— Bromfield

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Something is chimerical which is wildly or fantastically visionary or unreal
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an universal institutional church is as chimerical an idea as an universal empire— Inge

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the defeat was more complete, more humiliating . . . the hopes of revival more chimerical—Times Lit. Sup.

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Something is or one is quixotic which or who is motivated by extravagantly chivalrous devotion to visionary ideals
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quixotic as a restoration of medieval knighthood— Cohen

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to insist upon clemency in the circumstances would . . . have required quixotic courage— Buchan

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the economic notion that our present population . . . can live on this island and produce by their work a real income that will give them a rising standard of comfort and leisure, is utterly quixoticHobson

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Analogous words: *fictitious, fabulous, mythical, legendary, apocryphal: ideal, transcendent, transcendental, *abstract: Utopian (see AMBITIOUS): delusory, delusive (see MISLEADING): illusory, seeming, *apparent
Antonyms: real, actual
2 imaginative, imaginal, imaginable

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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  • Imaginary — can refer to:* Imaginary (sociology), a concept in sociology * Imaginary number, a concept in mathematics * Imaginary time, a concept in physics * Imagination, a mental faculty * Object of the mind, an object of the imagination * Imaginary enemy… …   Wikipedia

  • Imaginary — Im*ag i*na*ry, a. [L. imaginarius: cf. F. imaginaire.] Existing only in imagination or fancy; not real; fancied; visionary; ideal. [1913 Webster] Wilt thou add to all the griefs I suffer Imaginary ills and fancied tortures? Addison. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • imaginary — imaginary, imaginative Imaginary means ‘existing only in the imagination, not real’, whereas imaginative means ‘having or showing a high degree of imagination’. Both words can be applied to people as well as things; an imaginary person is one who …   Modern English usage

  • Imaginary — Im*ag i*na*ry, n. (Alg.) An imaginary expression or quantity. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • imaginary — (adj.) not real, late 14c., ymaginaire, from IMAGINE (Cf. imagine) + ARY (Cf. ary); or else from L.L. imaginarius seeming, fancied, from imaginari. Imaginary friend (one who does not exist) attested by 1789 …   Etymology dictionary

  • imaginary — ► ADJECTIVE 1) existing only in the imagination. 2) Mathematics expressed in terms of the square root of 1 (represented by i or j): imaginary numbers. DERIVATIVES imaginarily adverb …   English terms dictionary

  • imaginary — index artificial, delusive, fictitious, hypothetical, illusory, insubstantial, nonexistent, speculative …   Law dictionary

  • imaginary — [adj] fictitious, invented abstract, apocryphal, apparitional, assumed, chimerical, deceptive, delusive, dreamed up*, dreamlike, dreamy, fabulous, fancied, fanciful, fantastic, fictional, figmental, fool’s paradise*, hallucinatory, hypothetical,… …   New thesaurus