• (RP) IPA: /ɪˈmædʒɪn(ə)ɹi/
  • (GA) IPA: /ɪˈmædʒɪˌnɛɹi/


  1. Existing only in the imagination.
    Santa Claus is imaginary.
    • 1713, Joseph Addison, Cato, published 1712, [Act 4, scene 1]:
      Wilt thou add to all the griefs I suffer / Imaginary ills and fancied tortures?
  2. (mathematics, of a number) Having no real part; that part of a complex number which is a multiple of the square root of -1.
  • (existing only in the imagination) all in one's head
Translations Translations Noun

imaginary (plural imaginaries)

  1. Imagination; fancy. [from 16th c.]
    • 2002, Colin Jones (historian), The Great Nation, Penguin 2003, p. 324:
      By then too Mozart's opera, from Da Ponte's libretto, had made Figaro a stock character in the European imaginary and set the whole Continent whistling Mozartian airs and chuckling at Figaresque humour.
  2. (mathematics) An imaginary quantity. [from 18th c.]
  3. (sociology) The set of values, institutions, laws, and symbols common to a particular social group and the corresponding society through which people imagine their social whole.

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